United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived from London on Saturday, 14 June, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he was greeted by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal at the airport. They discussed a number of issues in the wider region, including Somalia, Lebanon and the Middle East peace process.
Following that meeting, the Secretary-General met for over an hour with King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. They discussed what the Secretary-General later described as the linked problems of rising fuel prices, rising food prices and climate change, and what can be done about it.
“The issues of food prices, fuel prices and climate change should be addressed in a comprehensive manner,” the Secretary-General told reporters on Sunday as he described his meeting with the King, adding that he was grateful that the King intended to convene a high-level meeting of major oil producers and consumers on this issue the following week in Saudi Arabia.
The Secretary-General and the King also discussed Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the King’s proposal for inter-faith dialogue among the world’s religions.
King Abdullah especially welcomed the progress made by the Somali parties last week in the Doha talks, under the auspices of Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, and said that the parties could sign the agreement in Saudi Arabia at any time. The date of the signing will be fixed immediately, the Secretary-General said.
The Secretary-General followed that discussion on Saturday night by meeting with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. They discussed further the Saudi King’s proposal for a dialogue among the world’s religious leaders and scholars, and also talked about cooperation between their respective organizations.
The Secretary-General started his meetings on Sunday by discussing Lebanon with the leader of that country’s Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt. The Secretary-General conveyed his hope that the Lebanese parties would soon form a government, and they also discussed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
He later met with the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, and they talked about the Counter-Terrorism Centre based in the country and the follow-up to the General Assembly’s adoption in 2006 of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
The Secretary-General’s last meeting before departing Jeddah was with Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud. They discussed the rise in oil prices and the meeting that was to take place a week later among major oil producers and consumers. They also discussed Iraq, Lebanon, the Middle East peace process and Somalia.
Before leaving Saudi Arabia, the Secretary-General also spoke by phone with the Saudi Oil Minister, Ali Al-Naimi, and they expressed their concerns about the impact of increasing oil prices on the cost of food and other essentials.
He then departed Jeddah and returned to London.