United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Bonn on Sunday, 4 December, where he was welcomed at City Hall by Lord Mayor Jürgen Nimptsch. There, he also met with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. The Secretary-General thanked the German Government for holding the Conference on Afghanistan, which provided a vital opportunity to refocus attention on the civilian aspects of transition in Afghanistan, essential to ensuring a sustainable transformation.
After a press conference with Foreign Minister Westerwelle, the Secretary-General met with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and thanked him for convening members of the international community to the Conference on Afghanistan.
The Secretary-General then met in closed session with members of Afghan civil society. He thanked them, telling them that their role is vital in shaping the development and political future of their country. “In Afghanistan, civil society is working in very difficult circumstances and with little means,” he said. In particular, however, he thanked all of the women leaders present for their determination and courage.
On Monday, the Secretary-General participated in the opening of the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. In his opening speech, he noted that the Afghan chairmanship of the Conference symbolizes something very important. It shows the increased capacity of our Afghan friends to lead. It demonstrates their willingness to own the processes that will shape their future. He told participants that the international community reaffirms its commitment to support the country in its efforts for a better, peaceful and prosperous life for all its people — women and men alike. (See Press Release SG/SM/13991)
The Secretary-General acknowledged that the challenges ahead are large, but stressed that we will not be deterred. He said that the United Nations will be there for Afghanistan. It was there well before 2001 and will be there far beyond 2014.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings with a variety of dignitaries. These were, in order, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor; Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State; Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France; Aliakhbar Salehi, Foreign Minister of Iran; Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission of the European Union; Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation; Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister of China; William Hague, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom; Claudio Bisogneiri, Deputy Secretary General of NATO; and Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey.
The Secretary-General travelled late on Monday afternoon, 5 December, from Germany to South Africa to attend the climate change talks in Durban.