Israeli-Palestinian talks, Egypt and Syria on agenda as UN chief arrives in Middle East
15 August 2013 – The deadly violence in Egypt, the ongoing Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s agenda as he arrived today in the Middle East, where he held talks with leaders in Jordan as well as with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, before heading to Israel.
In Jordan, Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to the Government and people of the country for their generosity in hosting over half a million Syrian refugees at a time when its ability to absorb more people was overstretched.
Both the Secretary-General and King Abdullah recognized that it was critical for the international community to share the burden that Jordan is carrying, according to a read-out of their meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
They also discussed yesterday’s violence in Egypt, with Mr. Ban noting the need to move forward with a political process and genuine reconciliation in the country.
The efforts by United States Secretary of State John Kerry to resume negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were also discussed in their meeting, as well as in Mr. Ban’s meeting with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. The Secretary-General commended Jordan’s efforts in recent years to get the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue back on track.
Mr. Ban then travelled to Ramallah in the West Bank, where he held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders. While there he also took part in a Model UN event, with a video link to Gaza. He will attend a similar Israeli event on Friday.
Before leaving Ramallah, the Secretary-General launched a new UN Development Assistance Framework that outlines how the world body works with the Palestinian Authority. He also visited the grave of Yasser Arafat.
From Ramallah, Mr. Ban travels to Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli leaders later today and tomorrow.