23 June – The Middle East conflict, the situation in Iraq and peace in Africa were the focus of a series of bilateral meetings United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan held today on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Jordan, where he delivered a major address.
Mr. Annan began the day with a meeting with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim of Brazil, with who he discussed the situation in Colombia as well as UN reform and the situation in the Middle East.
Mr. Amorim mentioned Brazil's interest in promoting peace in Africa, and they also discussed in particular current events in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, where the Security Council last week expressed concern over the fragile political situation and appealed to the country's President and Government to ensure elections are conducted in a transparent, fair and credible manner.
At mid-day, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Nabeel Shaath, for a review of current efforts to advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Mr. Annan then saw a former Foreign Minister of Iraq, Adnan Pachachi, and the two talked of the emerging UN role in Iraq, the security situation there, the political process leading to an Interim Iraqi Administration and the problems of managing the closing down of the Oil-for-Food programme, under which the sanctions-bound government of ousted President Saddam Hussein was allowed to sell oil for humanitarian supplies.
In an interview with the BBC Mr. Annan was asked what could be done to break the cycle of action and counter-action in the violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
"I think the leaders have to have the will and the courage to move forward," he replied. "They have to have the will and the courage to take some tough decisions and I think they will also need to see some improvement in the lives of the Palestinians, some gesture that would also help the new [Palestinian] Prime Minister [Mahmoud Abbas]. The new Prime Minister is doing his best but he needs some help also from the stronger parties."
Asked whether that message was being heard by Israel, Mr. Annan said: "There are serious discussions going on now and I hope it will lead to meaningful action. I would encourage both parties to really not only talk about…what could be done, but actually doing it. And if they did succeed in the talks that are taking place now, I think it will make a difference, it will show the Palestinians that something is moving and things are changing and could change for the better."