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SG/T/2396
29 January 2004

ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN FRANCE, 26 - 28 JANUARY

Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Paris from Stockholm late on Monday, 26 January.

On Tuesday morning, he issued a statement saying he had concluded that the United Nations could play a constructive role in Iraq.  Once satisfied that the Coalition Provisional Authority would provide adequate security arrangements, the statement said, he would send a mission to ascertain the views of a broad spectrum of Iraqi society in the search for alternatives that might be developed to move forward to the formation of a provisional government.

“I strongly hold to the idea”, he said, “that the most sustainable way forward would be one that came from the Iraqis themselves.  Consensus amongst all Iraqi constituencies would be the best guarantee of a legitimate and credible transitional governance arrangement for Iraq.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/9129.)

His first appointment of the day was with Edouard Balladur, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.  Mr. Balladur presented a copy of a report he had produced on the subject of globalization.  The Secretary-General then had a private meeting with Robert Badinter, a member of his high-level panel on threats, challenges and change.

Iraq and African issues dominated the working lunch he had with President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.  At a press encounter afterwards, the President said he fully supported the Secretary-General’s plan to send a fact-finding mission to Iraq.

The African issues discussed in the meeting included Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Ethiopia/Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others.

Other issues touched on in the meeting were Afghanistan, United Nations reform, the universal phenomenon of the slavery of women, the situation in Haiti, and the forthcoming meeting in Geneva with the Secretary-General, President Chirac and the Presidents of Brazil and Chile on the fight against hunger and poverty.

After lunch the Secretary-General met with Jacques Dermagne, the President of the Economic and Social Council of France.  They discussed the Council’s work in the fight against poverty.

He later attended a meeting hosted by President Chirac of business executives on the Global Compact.  He addressed a gathering of some heads of some 200 French countries who formed a national Global Compact group under the chairmanship of Bertrand Collomb, the Chairman of LaFarge building materials company.  Over the previous two days a number of those executives joined experts from academia and civil society for a two-day discussion on transparency and anti-corruption.  They found broad support for the idea of including a tenth principle of the Global Compact against corruption which would be subject to comprehensive consultation with all other participants in the Global Compact, which now includes over 1,300 companies from over 70 countries.

He later attended a reception hosted by President Chirac in honour of those attending that meeting.

In a separate programme that day, Mrs. Nane Annan visited the Infectious Diseases Unit at Tenon Hospital to learn about their work to treat and combat HIV/AIDS.  She met Professor Willy Rozenbaum, head of the Infectious Diseases Unit, as well as medical staff and patients.

Before leaving Paris on Wednesday morning, 28 January, the Secretary-General met with the President of China, Hu Jintao, who was in France on an official visit.

They discussed the democratic transitions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The President briefed the Secretary-General on his upcoming visit to Africa, and the Secretary-General thanked him for the special attention China pays to the continent.

At a press encounter afterwards, the Secretary-General said their talks also touched on United Nations reform and the need to adapt the United Nations and make it stronger.  He said he had invited the President to attend the General Assembly this autumn and the President in turn had invited him to visit China.  “And you’ll be seeing me there”, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.