Accra, Ghana

28 July 2004

Transcript of the Secretary-General's comments to the press prior to his meeting with Ghanaian President John Kufuor

SG: I am extremely happy to be back home, but more importantly to be able to work with the chairman of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and the leaders of the region and the leaders from the whole continent to try and see what we can do to help the Ivorian parties to solve the crisis in their country.

I hope they will come here with an open mind, determined to resolve this issue. They all have a responsibility, a responsibility towards their people and their nation. And I hope they will rise above initial interest and desire for power and put the nation first if we are going to resolve this issue. And this message to all of them. To all the parties, the opposition forces and President [Laurent] Gbagbo. Without that spirit, we will not make progress.

We met in Addis Ababa at the beginning of the month, and I think we did make some progress. Since then serious contacts have taken place between President Gbagbo and the neighbours. The mixed commission between Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso has met. And the one between Cote d'Ivoire and Mali has also met. And yesterday the three presidents of Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali met to discuss the Ivorian issue and its impact on the region. And the meeting in Addis Ababa and the recent ones are the first in many months if not in over a year. So I think we are making progress.

We have other leaders coming here who have been engaged. President Obasanjo, President Bongo who has been in touch with all the parties and will be coming tomorrow. And collectively we hope we will be able to help our Ivorian brothers and sisters move forward.

President Kufuor: Thank you for this [inaudible]. We count ourselves very lucky to have you coming from here and at the same time being at the helm of affairs of the United Nations.

The Ivorian problem as we all know, has assumed very international proportions. So I believe we have come to a point where your presence here should serve to move the process forward. The delegation from the Security Council came ahead, and now you are here, and all this should serve as notice to our brothers in Cote d'Ivoire that the matter is not local anymore and the whole world is looking inside and this is no time for individual political ambitions to be pandered to. And the people of La Cote d'Ivoire really deserve some peace to enable them to move towards the elections where they will decide who their rightful leadership should be. So we welcome you.