25 February 2005 – The situation in the Middle East dominates the agenda of a day-long visit to London next Tuesday by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his second trip to the British capital in a month.
Mr. Annan will address the London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority, which is being hosted by the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Tony Blair, on Tuesday morning.
Later that day in the British capital the Secretary-General will participate in a high-level meeting of the Middle East Quartet, which is comprised of the UN, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana will also take part in the talks.
Mr. Annan is also expected to have a series of bilateral meetings on the margins of the all-day conference, before returning to UN Headquarters in New York. Earlier this month he travelled to London as part of a European tour to discuss UN reform and international security issues.
The Secretary-General's trip occurs as his Deputy, Louise Fréchette, winds up her visit to the EU today by holding further talks in Brussels with senior officials from the regional organization.
Ms. Fréchette met with Mr. Solana; Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations; and Franco Frattini, Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security.
According to UN spokesman Fred Eckhard, their talks focused on the Middle East, Iraq, the Darfur crisis in Sudan, and the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Next week Ms. Fréchette is scheduled to visit UN peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire and Kosovo, where she will meet with senior officials and reinforce Mr. Annan's zero-tolerance message on sexual exploitation and abuse. She is expected to travel to Haiti on a similar visit later this year and eventually tour all the UN peace operations around the world.