United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kuwait from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in the evening of Sunday, 18 January. He went immediately to the inauguration ceremony of the new United Nations House, which was donated to the United Nations by the Kuwaiti Government.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General attended a welcome reception hosted by the Emir of Kuwait for Heads of State attending the Arab League Economic Summit.
In his statement to the Summit, the Secretary-General told participants of his relief that Israel had announced, the day before, a cessation of hostilities in Gaza, and that later Hamas, too, announced a temporary ceasefire. He said he was determined to do all possible to ensure that immediate steps are taken to bring relief to the people of Gaza and, to that end, he would dispatch in the coming days a high-level humanitarian and early recovery assessment mission to Gaza. (See Press Release SG/SM/12053.)
Bilateral meetings held that day were with Sheikha Amthal al-Sabah, Chairwoman of the Voluntary Work Center of Kuwait and Sister of the Emir of Kuwait; Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar, with whom he discussed the situation in Gaza and the Middle East peace process, and the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud Al-Faisal. He also met with Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank. They discussed recovery and reconstruction in Gaza. The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for the support given by the World Bank office in Gaza to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). They also discussed the financial crisis and how it affects the most vulnerable countries. They exchanged ideas on how the World Bank can help peacekeeping missions, particularly in the rural areas. They agreed to meet in Madrid at the end of January, at the High-Level meeting on Food Security.
He met in Kuwait that day with heads of United Nations agencies working in Kuwait, and held a town hall meeting with staff. He attended a tree-planting ceremony with Sheikha Amthal.
The Secretary-General attended a dinner that evening hosted by the Emir of Kuwait at Bayan Palace.