17 June 2008


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived in London by train from Paris on Thursday, 12 June.

The following morning, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast meeting with United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with whom he discussed the upcoming 25 September High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, the Middle East, Kosovo and the rise in food and oil prices.  The Prime Minister also wished the Secretary-General a happy birthday.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Secretary-General said that he was aware that the proposals he presented to the Security Council a day earlier on Kosovo may not fully satisfy all sides, yet he fully believes that what he proposed will prove to be the least objectionable course to all and can offer a way forward.

On Zimbabwe, he said that he had emphasized to President Robert Mugabe the importance of ensuring that there would be no further violence and that the run-off elections should be transparent, fair and credible.

The Secretary-General and Ban Soon-taek later had an audience with Queen Elizabeth II, who also wished the Secretary-General a happy birthday and noted that the official celebration of her own birthday would take place the following day.

The Secretary-General then addressed the UN Association of the United Kingdom, discussing the central role of the United Nations in world affairs and highlighting the United Nations work on climate change, global health, terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation.  (See Press Release SG/SM/11639.)

That evening, he met with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and discussed with him Kosovo, Zimbabwe and Myanmar, among other subjects.  He and his wife spent the evening at the Foreign Secretary’s residence in Chevening, and had dinner and breakfast the following morning with the Milibands.

On Saturday, the Secretary-General left on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, returning to London the following evening.  (See Press Release SG/T/2611.)

On Monday, the Secretary-General continued his meetings with British officials, starting with a working breakfast with Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne.

After that, he met with the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Nick Clegg.  They discussed the Sudan, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, the Secretary-General’s weekend trip to Saudi Arabia, climate change and United Nations reform.

Later that morning, he met with Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn.  They talked about the problems involving rising food costs, rising fuel costs and climate change, and how those problems were linked.

The Secretary-General then went to a working luncheon hosted by the Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, which included leaders of different religious groups, civil society organizations and members of the business community.  They exchanged ideas over lunch about how the 25 September High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals that the Secretary-General would convene in New York could be made a success.

The Secretary-General in the afternoon met with the leader of the opposition, David Cameron.  They discussed the situations in Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Darfur.

The Secretary-General then spoke at the sixtieth anniversary of the International Maritime Organization, and commended the agency for focusing on the impact that shipping has on the Earth.  He said that that focus is critical to our quality of life today -- and to future generations who will inherit the world of tomorrow.  (See Press Release SG/SM/11641.)

That night, he spoke at the unveiling of a BBC memorial called “Breathing”, a glass sculpture that sent a shaft of light out into the night sky in tribute to journalists who have been slain in the line of duty.

The Secretary-General said that the beam of light stands as a solemn reminder of those who have lost their lives giving voice to the voiceless.  He said, “Those who murder journalists don’t only stop the free flow of information; they kill the ability of millions of people to have their stories told.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/11642.)

He departed to New York on Tuesday, 17 June.

For information media. Not an official record.