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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's Remarks to Press following meeting with H.E. Mr. Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America

Washington DC, , 4 August 2015

Thank you, Mr. President [Barack Obama], for your warm welcome to the Oval Office again. 

I had an extremely constructive meeting with President Obama this time on the eve of a truly historic General Assembly in September, and in the aftermath of all these very historic diplomatic achievements that President Obama and the US government have been making in many areas like the Iranian nuclear deal and normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and his recent very successful visit to Africa. And all these are truly historic diplomatic achievements. 

The United Nations continues to stand working with you and the US government. We really appreciate your strong leadership and support, and strong, generous humanitarian assistance to many places of conflict. And I really count on your strong support.

On climate change, I highly commend President Obama’s strong commitment since day one in his office up to now, and I count on your continuing leadership until we’ll be able to address at this one -- this climate change -- and have a climate change agreement in December, in Paris. 

In that regard, I would like to congratulate you and highly commend your visionary and forward leadership announcement of yesterday on a Clean Power Plan. This is hugely important and visionary leadership. The U.S. can and will be able to change the world in addressing [the] climate phenomenon. And we are the first generation, as President Obama rightly said yesterday, to put an end to global poverty. And we are the last generation who can address climate change phenomenon.

I think this Clean Power Plan powers economies and generates jobs. And also, it can have -- generate huge dividends here at home, in US economy. And I’m sure that this will impact other countries. And I really appreciate your personal engagement starting with China and Brazil and India, and many others. As I’m going to have some small-scale leaders meeting on the margins of the General Assembly, I hope you will really lead all this campaign under your strong leadership.

We are very committed.  We discussed about how to mobilize $100 billion for climate financing. I am working very closely with [French] President [François] Hollande in his capacity as President of future COP [Conference of the Parties] 21 and [German] Chancellor Angela Merkel in her capacity as Chair of the G7, and World Bank President [Jim Yong Kim] and IMF Managing Director [Christine Lagarde], and OECD Secretary-General [Angel Gurría]. We are really trying to present a politically credible trajectory of $100 billion to the world so that this can be supported at the COP 21 in Paris.

This is a top priority now as we have successfully agreed on sustainable development agenda with a set of 17 sustainable development goals.  This is hugely ambitious and encouraging news. And we also agreed in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) last month [a] financial and technological framework to support sustainable development agenda and climate change. On all these matters, we really count on your strong support. 

On regional issues, President Obama has explained and briefed all what we discussed.  We are completely on the same page. On Syrian issues, on 29th of July -- last week -- my Special Envoy [Staffan de Mistura] and I presented a proposal to establish a four thematic working groups to operationalize Geneva communiqué, and I there was encouraged to find such strong support by the Security Council members.  We will try to expedite -- to provide some political solution to this, operationalizing Geneva communiqué.  At the same time, we are doing our best effort to provide humanitarian assistance to needy people. 

On Yemen, there is no military solution; there is only solution by political way, through dialogue.  I have been continuously coordinating and working together with GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] members led by, again, Saudi Arabia.  And my Special Envoy is always in the region working very closely with the parties. 

We are very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, as President Obama said. Eighty percent of the population -- to be exact, more than 21 million people -- are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Our humanitarian team, despite the difficulties of security and safety, yet mobilizes all possible support. I’m urging the world members -- member states -- to provide generous humanitarian assistance. This is what I’m really asking for such generous support. 

I highly appreciate and commend leadership of President Obama on South Sudan. His recent visit to Africa and convening a leaders meeting on South Sudan really made a big impact. We are working very hard with the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] members and African Union so that this August 17th summit meeting of IGAD will be able to have adoption of this agreement between the parties. We are working very hard.

And I really appreciate your strong support for human rights.  In all these conflict areas, it is the people whose human rights are being abused.  And we are taking human rights up front as priority issues, and I really appreciate the United States’ continuing support and leadership.

Again, thank you very much, Mr. President, for your global leadership.  And I wish you continued success.  Thank you.


Off-the-Cuff on 4 August 2015