On Friday, 3 April, United Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madame Ban Soon-taek arrived in Paris, France, where the Secretary-General’s primary purpose was to chair a gathering of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).
Soon after arriving, the Secretary-General met with Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader. The Secretary-General commended both Mr. Talat and Dimitris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader, for their commitment and determined leadership, and confirmed his strong and unwavering support for their efforts, as well as the ongoing support of his good offices.
Following that meeting, the Secretary-General met with former French President Jacques Chirac. The two discussed water scarcity, AIDS in Africa, Lebanon and Syria, and Haiti.
Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General headed to the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he met with UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and addressed UNESCO staff and Permanent Representatives to the body. He also met with French Prime Minister François Fillon at Matignon, the Prime Minister’s official residence.
The next day, Saturday, 4 April, the Secretary-General met with his Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development, former French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy. He then headed to UNESCO headquarters to open CEB’s regular session. The heads of all United Nations bodies had come to Paris to, among other things, throw the United Nations weight behind efforts to address the current economic crisis. According to the Secretary-General, their gathering was timely and significant, as it was being held immediately after the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit to devise a follow-up strategy across the United Nations system and Bretton Woods institutions.
On Saturday evening, the Secretary-General had a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and he elaborated on the topics of their discussion during comments to the press after that encounter. In those comments, the Secretary-General said that he had expressed his appreciation to the Foreign Minister for France’s important contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as well as its crucial role in supporting the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). Referring to a forthcoming donors’ conference on Somalia, he said he was counting on France to provide a generous contribution.
During his meeting with the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General received word from New York that John Solecki, an official from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who had been kidnapped in Pakistan, had just been released. The Secretary-General wholeheartedly welcomed that development.
The next day, on Sunday, 5 April, after meeting again with CEB, the Secretary-General left for Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the Second Alliance of Civilizations Forum.