United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Zaragoza, Spain, from Geneva, Switzerland, in the middle of the day on Monday, 1 September.
He visited the international EXPO 2008 under the theme “Water and Sustainable Development”. He toured a number of pavilions, and addressed guests at the Water Tribune. He expressed the United Nations commitment to protecting and properly managing the world’s precious water resources, and stressed the need to tackle existing challenges and emerging threats in meeting global water and sanitation goals. (See Press Release SG/SM/11770.)
The Secretary-General then travelled to Madrid, where the following morning he met with the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Zapatero.
During a joint press conference, the Secretary-General referred to the situation in Georgia and expressed his concern over the complex and unpredictable humanitarian situation on the ground. The Secretary-General stated that teams from the United Nations refugee agency continue to closely monitor those movements and to provide material support to the displaced.
Responding to a question regarding the situation in Western Sahara, the Secretary-General said he recognized the importance of maintaining the momentum of the negotiations as long as the parties are committed to the process. In the meantime, he said, he welcomed the parties’ agreement to expand the programme of confidence-building measures. It has a direct impact on the quality of life of Saharans and it can help build trust, which could help break the impasse in other areas, he said.
He returned to New York later in the day on Tuesday, 2 September.