United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Moscow in the Russian Federation during the afternoon of Thursday, 26 March.
That evening, he attended a working dinner at the Foreign Ministry mansion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The main focus of their discussion was Afghanistan, but they also touched upon Russia’s participation in peacekeeping; the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Gaza; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the need to keep the six-party talks on track; Kosovo; and Georgia. They also talked about climate change, nuclear disarmament and international road safety, as Moscow will be the venue of an international conference on road safety in November.
The following morning, Friday, 27 March, the Secretary-General addressed the Special Conference on Afghanistan convened under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In his remarks, he noted that terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organized crime are impeding progress for the Afghan people. At the same time, he stressed that, since the problems of terrorism and criminality transcend borders, we all have an interest in countering such threats with sustained and robust action. Afghanistan cannot face these challenges alone, the Secretary-General said, adding that cooperation must be our watchword as we respond. (See Press Release SG/SM/12153)
Prior to that, the Secretary-General started his day with a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Dâdfar Spantâ. During that meeting, the Secretary-General said that today’s gathering in Moscow and the upcoming conference in The Hague showed how strongly the international community was committed to and standing by Afghanistan. He added that he hoped the Afghan Government would seize this opportunity and move forward on stability, security and social and economic development. The Secretary-General assured the Foreign Minister that the United Nations would always continue to play the role of prime coordinator of all assistance to and within Afghanistan. And he stressed that it was important for Afghanistan to maintain improved relations with neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan. The two also touched on the drug situation in Afghanistan, as well as the forthcoming elections in the country, with the Secretary-General expressing hope that they would be transparent, democratic and fair. The Secretary-General also stressed that this is a crucial year for Afghanistan to achieve progress.
Following his address to the Special Conference on Afghanistan, the Secretary-General headed to the residence of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, where the two discussed the financial crisis, the forthcoming Group of 20 (G-20) meeting in London, climate change, Russian involvement in United Nations peacekeeping, and Sudan.
Also in Moscow on Friday, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The Secretary-General first offered his condolences for a suicide bomb attack that had killed over 50 people in Pakistan that day. They then discussed Pakistan’s role in achieving peace in Afghanistan, among other things.
Following that meeting, the Secretary-General gave a lecture to diplomats, academics and journalists in an event organized by International Affairs, the journal of the Russian Foreign Ministry. In his wide-ranging speech, he noted that the challenges facing the world today are immense, but so are the opportunities. But we can only seize those opportunities by working together, all nations -- and in particular major nations -- as partners. Quoting a Russian proverb, which says, “If everyone gives one thread, the poor man will have a shirt,” he said that this is the United Nations ethos. (See Press Release SG/SM/12154)
The following day, Saturday, 28 March, the Secretary-General met with representatives of Central Asian countries, including Nurtay Abykayev, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan; Kadyrbek Sarbaev, Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan; Hamrokhon Zarifi, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan; and V. Khadijev, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan. They discussed Central Asia’s role in the stabilization of Afghanistan and in the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s economy. They also spoke about existing threats in Central Asia, including those related to transboundary crime, drug trafficking, terrorism and extremism, as well as existing problems in the area of water and energy.
Later that day, the Secretary-General left Moscow for Doha, Qatar, to attend the League of Arab States Summit.