|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN CUBA, 14-16 SEPTEMBER
Shortly after his arrival in Havana on Thursday evening, 14 September, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was received at the Palacio Nacional by Cuba’s President Fidel Castro Ruz. For nearly an hour, they discussed the issues that would come up at the fourteenth Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement to begin the following day. The Secretary-General also briefed President Castro on his visit to the Middle East. They also discussed agricultural development in Africa, a cause on which the Secretary-General will focus once he steps down from office.
On Friday, 15 September, the Secretary-General addressed the Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, telling them that the Movement’s larger voice “brings with it greater responsibility, both internationally and at home”. That includes a responsibility to work decisively and constructively to build a multilateral system and a United Nations capable of responding to today’s challenges, he said. He also noted the challenge of transforming global governance and the empowerment of women. (See Press Release SG/SM/10636.)
Immediately after the close of the opening session, the Secretary-General met with the First Vice-President of the Council of State, Raúl Castro. The Acting President briefed him on the latest developments in Cuba, including progress made in the health sector. He also pledged that Cuba would be a constructive leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Secretary-General also brought up the issue of United Nations reform, especially Security Council reform. He encouraged the Non-Aligned Movement to better structure itself, so as to positively reflect its numerical strength.
During a bilateral meeting with the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Secretary-General discussed the prospects for talks between the Government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and the issue of humanitarian access to the civilian population. Regarding reported violations of human rights, the President said he had agreed to an independent national commission of investigation.
With President Evo Morales Aima of Bolivia, the Secretary-General talked about developments in the new Constituent Assembly and the issue of natural resources; and a topic discussed with the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, was the upcoming high-level meeting on Côte d’Ivoire, to be held on the margins of the sixty-first General Assembly session. At a meeting with Omer Hassan A. Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, the Secretary-General and the President discussed the situation in Darfur, including the role played by the African Union Mission in the Sudan.
Other bilateral meetings held that day were with Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of Mozambique; Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania; and Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. Issues discussed were India-Pakistan relations, terrorism and sectarian violence, developments in Jammu and Kashmir, and the situation in Nepal.
Mr. Annan also met with the United Nations country team in Cuba.
That evening, he attended a dinner for Heads of State and Government attending the Non-Aligned Movement Summit.
Before departure on Saturday morning, the Secretary-General met with students of the International School of Havana at the United Nations Development Programme compound.
He returned to New York that day.
* *** *For information media • not an official record