United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Accra, Ghana, late in the evening of Saturday, 19 April, at the beginning of a visit to West Africa that would also take him to Liberia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire.
At a press encounter upon arrival, the Secretary-General outlined his priorities for this tour of West Africa, which included promoting the Millennium Development Goals and United Nations peacebuilding projects. In Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, he would also meet with the civilian and military leadership of United Nations peacekeeping operations.
On Sunday morning, he met with the Foreign Minister of Ghana, Akwesi Osei-Adjei, and they discussed climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and upcoming parliamentary elections in Ghana.
After that, he met with the Speaker of Parliament, Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes. They spoke about the Millennium Development Goals, the role of parliaments in promoting them, the September Millennium Development Goal summit which the Secretary-General would convene on the margins of the General Debate, and the role of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). At that meeting, the Secretary-General also described Africa as his top priority.
The Secretary-General also met with the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, for talks on Kosovo, Cyprus and the global food crisis.
After a working lunch with Heads of United Nations agencies working in Ghana, the Secretary-General launched, in a closed meeting at the Accra International Conference Centre, the Chief Executives Board Interagency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity.
Later that afternoon he formally opened the Twelfth Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII). His address focused on the soaring global food prices and how to respond to this crisis. He announced the creation of a high-powered task force to propose possible solutions. He also appealed to world leaders to forge an immediate consensual response to the food crisis. His speech also touched on the Millennium Development Goals, especially as they relate to Africa, and on climate change. (See Press Release SG/SM/11522)
After that, he met with Ghana’s President, John Agyekum Kufuor, with whom he discussed the Millennium Development Goals and the proposed task force to deal with the food crisis.
At a bilateral meeting with Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva topics discussed were poverty reduction, the food crisis, Haiti and Brazil’s role in the United Nations Stabilization Mission there, and biofuels.
During the day, Mrs. Ban visited a children’s hospital in Accra, accompanied by the Ghanaian Minister of Health and Minister of Women and Children. Later, she met with the spouses of foreign diplomats posted in Accra.
On Sunday evening, the Secretary-General and Madam Ban attended a reception hosted by the Ghanaian authorities.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General began his programme of work with a meeting with El Salvador’s Vice-President, Ana Vilma Albanez de Escobar, with whom he discussed the food crisis, El Salvador’s agricultural policy and efforts to combat crime, as well as regional security issues in South America.
After that, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations country team and held a town hall meeting with United Nations staff, before taking part in the high-level segment on African development in the context of UNCTAD XII at the Accra International Conference Centre. In his opening remarks, he exhorted African nations to press ahead in their pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals and deplored the effects of climate change on Africa and its economies. He challenged the international community to devise climate strategies that are “an opportunity, not an obstacle, for Africa's development and prosperity”. (See Press Release SG/SM/11523)
In his closing remarks at the segment on African development, he urged Member States to translate their words into action. (See Press Release SG/SM/11526)
The Secretary-General then had lunch with Heads of State and delegations attending the UNCTAD XII Meeting.
Before departing for Monrovia, he met for half an hour with the Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, upon Mr. Tsvangirai’s request, and they discussed the deadlock over elections and the deterioration of the humanitarian and political situation in the country.
In a press encounter later, the Secretary-General reiterated his deep concern that the situation still has not been resolved, as well as his concern about the reported violence. He urged the Zimbabwean Government to release officially the results of the elections and resolve the political deadlock through peaceful means, and said that he would consult the President of the African Union on possible ways forward.