The seventh stop on his Middle East visit took United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Baghdad where he arrived from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday morning, 24 July.
He was welcomed by Hussain Al Shahristani, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq.
He met with Nuri Kamel al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, and both men later spoke to the press. Mr. Ban spoke of his profound worry about the violence engulfing Iraq, and expressed solidarity for the people of Iraq in their struggle against terrorism. He said that Iraq’s leaders bear a clear responsibility to protect the security and welfare of all Iraqi people, and encouraged Baghdad and Erbil to work towards restoring their partnership and to jointly address the security crisis.
The Secretary-General then flew to Najaf, and met there with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani at his residence.
At a press encounter after that meeting, the Secretary-General said that he and the Ayatollah had reviewed the current crisis in Iraq and the necessary humanitarian response. He welcomed the Ayatollah’s appeal for all citizens to exercise the highest degree of restraint and avoid any kind of behaviour that may affect the unity of Iraq.
The Secretary-General then flew to Erbil where he met with Masoud Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government. In remarks to the press afterwards, Mr. Ban said that the two had agreed that the challenges facing Iraq are critical. They require all political leaders to ensure that the Government formation process is concluded swiftly and within the constitutional timetable.
The Secretary-General and his delegation flew to Cairo on Thursday evening.