18 September 2018

Activities of Secretary-General in Saudi Arabia, 16-17 September

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday morning, 16 September.

His first appointment was with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.  He then attended the ceremony for the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, which was signed by President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.

In a tweet, the Secretary-General congratulated the leaders of Eritrea and Ethiopia on signing the Joint Declaration, which he called a strong wind of hope for the Horn of Africa and far beyond.  He also expressed his deep appreciation to His Majesty, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for bringing the parties together.

Following a lunch hosted by His Majesty, the Secretary-General met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.  He then held talks with Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed al-Jubeir.

In all of his meetings with Saudi officials, the Secretary-General and his interlocutors discussed the funding shortfall faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as well as the situations in Syria’s Idlib and in Yemen.

The Secretary-General’s last official engagement of the day was a press conference with Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir, at which the Secretary-General said that the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia was part of a larger trend towards a general improvement of relations in the region, pointing to talks between the leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as a recent agreement between Riek Machar and Salva Kiir in South Sudan.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General also stressed that this window of hope was enormously important in a world where hope had been very scarce.

The Secretary-General returned to New York on Monday, 17 September.

For information media. Not an official record.