On Sunday, 18 January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled from Beirut, Lebanon, to Damascus, capital of Syria. He was greeted at the airport by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem.
The Secretary-General met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Presidential Palace. The crisis in Gaza was the main focus of their talks; the two men emphasized that an immediate ceasefire was crucial, which should be followed by steps to ensure it was sustainable and durable, including the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the opening of the crossings. The Secretary-General said he would send in a humanitarian ‘needs assessment’ team as soon as a ceasefire was declared. The United Nations was ready to resume its work in providing urgent humanitarian relief to the citizens of Gaza as soon as possible. He also stressed the importance of the role of Syria in the region.
They also discussed the positive developments in relations between Syria and Lebanon.
Mr. Ban and his delegation flew that morning from Damascus to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.