United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Sirte, Libya, on Friday, 25 March 2010, to participate in the Summit meeting there of the League of Arab States. He was greeted at the airport by the country’s leader, Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, who welcomed his attendance at the Summit, which Colonel Qadhafi chaired.
The Secretary-General then went to meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to discuss recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Secretary-General briefed the President on his visit one week earlier to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and on the recent meeting in Moscow of the Quartet dealing with the Middle East. The Secretary-General made clear that the parties must resume proximity talks, adding that the point of such talks would be to move ahead to direct talks in which all core issues would be addressed. The Secretary-General emphasized the commitment of the United Nations to negotiations to end the 1967 occupation, with the goal for their conclusion within 24 months. The Secretary-General also proposed the establishment of a United Nations trust fund to expedite implementation of reconstruction projects in Gaza, to which the President agreed.
The Secretary-General met with Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, with whom he discussed the Middle East peace process and recent developments affecting it.
They both participated in a meeting of the follow-up committee of the League of Arab States, at which the Secretary-General asserted that there is no alternative to negotiations for a two-State solution. He told the Arab leaders that they and the United Nations share a strong interest and responsibility in supporting efforts to bring the parties together and negotiate a political settlement. He strongly supported the League’s decision to provide political support for President Abbas to begin proximity talks.
Also on Friday evening, the Secretary-General met with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal. They discussed the Middle East peace process, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other regional issues. The Secretary-General thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous contribution to Haiti following the earthquake there, and invited high-level Saudi participation at the Haiti Donors’ Conference in New York.
The following morning, on Saturday, 27 March, the Secretary-General addressed the plenary session of the League of Arab States Summit, and once more urged Arab leaders to support the proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. He also called for progress in peace efforts in the wider region, as well, including the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
The Secretary-General also noted the large turnout, despite violence and threats, by Iraqi voters in the elections in that country. He said that it is time for the Iraqi parties to move ahead on forming a Government. And he added that the United Nations will also provide support to Sudan’s April 2010 elections, with a priority of ensuring that all the Sudanese people have a voice in their future. (See Press Release SG/SM/12811.)
On the margins of the plenary session, the Secretary-General held bilateral meetings with some of the leaders gathered for the Summit.
The first such meeting was with President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, with whom the Secretary-General discussed the situation in Yemen, including humanitarian conditions there. The President invited the Secretary-General to visit the country.
The Secretary-General then met with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani. They talked about the Middle East peace process, improved relations between Yemen and Lebanon, and regional issues, including Iran, Yemen and the Israeli-Syrian track. They also discussed Somalia.
After the plenary session had concluded, the Secretary-General held a press conference, discussing the work being done on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, elections in Iraq and Sudan, and efforts to support Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. He expressed his concern at the violence and loss of life that had taken place a day earlier near the Gaza border, and reiterated his appeal for an end to violence at a critical time when efforts are being made to revive peace talks.
The Secretary-General later met with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, with whom he discussed the Middle East peace process, Syria-Lebanon relations and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and the Syria-Israel regional track.
Afterwards, he met with President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi of the Comoros, with whom he discussed the situation in that country. The Secretary-General made clear that the United Nations would assist in the resolution of any problems, and that it stood ready to help the Comoros in education, health and other programmes.
The Secretary-General’s final bilateral meeting of the day was with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia. They discussed current developments in Somalia, the forthcoming meeting on Somalia in Istanbul and piracy in the waters off the country’s coast. The President expressed his appreciation to the Secretary-General for the extensive United Nations efforts in Somalia.
The Secretary-General concluded his day by attending a dinner and cultural performance, including dancing from around the Arab world. That event was hosted by Colonel Qadhafi.
He returned to New York the following day, 28 March.