United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Paris from New York on the morning of Sunday, 14 July.
That morning, he was a presidential guest at the military parade celebrating France’s national day — Bastille Day — which this year included the participation of peacekeepers from the newly established United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Following the parade, the Secretary-General met with Ivo Josipović, President of Croatia. In the meeting, the Secretary-General congratulated the Government and people of Croatia on their new membership to the European Union. He encouraged Croatia to share its experience with neighbouring countries who also wish to join the European Union.
The Secretary-General then attended a lunch hosted by the President of France, François Hollande, in honour of his guests at the parade.
Later that afternoon, the Secretary-General held discussions with Dioncounda Traoré, the Interim President of Mali. They exchanged views on MINUSMA’s mandate, the need to pursue efforts towards an inclusive national dialogue and the human rights situation in the country. The Secretary-General also noted the importance of the upcoming presidential elections and underlined that they needed to be credible and peaceful, with an outcome accepted by all Malians.
The Secretary-General also met with the Defence Minister of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian. They discussed the situation in Mali, including MINUSMA’s mandate and the support of French troops for the Mission, as well as progress achieved in implementing the Preliminary Agreement of 18 June. They also exchanged views on the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Lebanon and in Syria.
That night, the Secretary-General also met with Yann Arthus-Bertrand, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador, before viewing, at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters with Director GeneralIrina Bokova, the fireworks held on the occasion of France’s national day.
The following day, Monday, 15 July, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast with the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
He then met with Abdou Diouf, the Secretary-General of the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF), and discussed the situations in Mali, Guinea, Madagascar, Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau, as well as the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda. Afterwards, the Secretary-General had a brief press encounter.
The Secretary-General then held discussions with the Prime Minister of France, Jean-Marc Ayrault, followed by a meeting with President Hollande. In these meetings, they discussed the situation in Mali, Sahel, Egypt and Syria.
The Secretary-General and the French President also agreed on the necessity to end the violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Furthermore, they exchanged views on climate change and on the necessity to reach a global binding agreement by 2015.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with President Hollande, the Secretary-General said that he had asked for France’s support concerning MINUSMA’s lack of capacities to fulfil its mandate, especially transport and armed helicopters.
Later, the Secretary-General met with the President of the French National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, and discussed with him the important role of parliamentarians, as well as the importance of women’s representation in parliaments and fighting discrimination against women.
After attending a luncheon hosted by Mr. Bartolone, the Secretary-General and his wife travelled back to New York.