United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife Ban Soon-taek arrived in Paris on Thursday, 12 June. In the morning, he addressed the Conference convened by the French Government in Paris to support Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai launched a National Development Strategy for his country.
The Secretary-General said that the Strategy “will be tested in the most remote villages” of Afghanistan. He said that the United Nations supports the Strategy's concept of “Afghanization”, explaining that such a policy was not only about channelling more international assistance into Afghan institutions, but to have all Afghans participate in the rebuilding of their country.
He also called the elections that are to take place in 2009 and 2010 “a crucial test of the institutions that we have created together and of the confidence that Afghans have in them”.
The Secretary-General then held a number of bilateral meetings on the margins of the Conference. He first met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and they discussed the proposals on Kosovo that the Secretary-General had prepared; which are to be presented to the UN Security Council.
He also discussed Kosovo with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
Afterwards, he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, thanking him for China's strong support for Afghanistan and voicing his support for China's efforts to deal with the damage caused by the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province. He invited China's Prime Minister to attend the 25 September High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals. They also discussed the Kosovo proposals and Myanmar.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General met tête-à-tête with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The Secretary-General followed that with a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, with whom he discussed support for Afghanistan and Pakistan's request for an investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination.
He then had a working lunch with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Later, he met with President Karzai to discuss the Conference and the way ahead for Afghanistan.
The Secretary-General then met French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the convenor of the Conference, and they discussed the Central African Republic, Chad and the Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, Kosovo, Lebanon and Somalia.
The Secretary-General's last meeting in Paris was with European Union High Commissioner Javier Solana, with whom he discussed Afghanistan, Georgia, Kosovo and Iran.
The Secretary-General and Madame Ban Soon-taek then headed to London on Thursday evening.