United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Paris on Sunday, 13 July.
The Secretary-General attended, in the early afternoon, the Summit of the Union for the Mediterranean. Participating in the plenary session on economic development, food security, water and energy, he underlined a number of global challenges that require a common approach, including the food crisis and climate change. (See Press Release SG/SM/11695)
In closing remarks at the Summit, the Secretary-General also spoke of the need for common solutions to political issues in the Mediterranean basin, saying that the coming months will be crucial. He noted encouraging signs in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in Gaza, in Lebanon and in Cyprus. (See Press Release SG/SM/11696)
The Secretary-General met several Heads of State and Government on the margins of the Summit, including the Presidents of Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Prime Minister of Israel.
The Secretary-General discussed Cyprus in his meeting with President Dimitris Christofias and noted that he would meet with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, in Berlin the following day. He discussed the same issue with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Secretary-General talked about Lebanon and the positive developments in the area, including the possibility of renewed relations between Lebanon and Syria. They also discussed the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), the signs that the truce in Gaza is holding and the Israel-Hizbullah prisoner and hostage issue.
He also discussed the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) in his first meeting with the new Lebanese President, Michel Suleiman. They also talked about the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the Shab’a Farms and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
He also met with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Jean Ping, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, on the issues of Darfur and Zimbabwe.
The Secretary-General had also met earlier that day with Ingrid Betancourt, following her recent rescue after years being held hostage in Colombia. He later said that he respected her exemplary courage during her years of captivity, and he invited her to a forum to take place in New York in the autumn to support the victims of acts of terrorism.
In the evening, Mr. Ban attended a dinner hosted by President Nicolas and Mrs. Sarkozy in honour of the Heads of State and Governments attending the Summit.
The Secretary-General was the guest of honour at a parade on Monday morning to celebrate France’s National Day and the sixtieth anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping. Two different contingents of peacekeepers from different parts of the world took part for the first time in the event -- one comprising 145 soldiers from 25 different countries, and one of French soldiers returning from service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon . Before the start of the parade, the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was read to mark the sixtieth anniversary of its adoption in Paris in 1948.
The Secretary-General continued that day his bilateral meetings with, among others, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. In his meeting with the French Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General reiterated the independence of the International Criminal Court. In addition to Sudan, they discussed Zimbabwe, the United Nations Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, the Shab’a Farms, Cyprus and Kosovo.
Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General said he saw some encouraging developments in the situation in the Middle East in general, including the election of a President and the formation of a unity Government in Lebanon, the agreement between Lebanon and Syria to launch a diplomatic process to establish diplomatic relations, and the indirect talks between Syria and Israel through the auspices of the Turkish Government.
He also met separately that day with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and he discussed with both all aspects of the Middle East peace process. He commended both leaders for their continued commitment to the peace process and discussed how to make vital progress in the period ahead in the bilateral negotiations on the core issues, in implementation of Phase I Road Map obligations, in addressing immediate concerns in Gaza and solidifying the recent calm, and also on the regional track between Israel and Syria.
The Secretary-General departed Paris on Tuesday morning for Berlin, Germany.