Press Releases

    SG/T/2403
                                                                                                                            6 April 2004

    Activities of Secretary-General in Austria, 1 – 4 April

    NEW YORK, 5 April (UN Headquarters) -- Shortly after his arrival in Vienna on Thursday, 1 April, Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Heinz Fischer, the former President of the Austrian National Council.  They had a wide-ranging discussion of international issues, starting with Cyprus.  They also touched on Iraq, Kosovo, North Korea, the Middle East, United Nations reform and Austria’s relations with the United Nations.

    The Secretary-General then met with Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, initially with delegations and then for a brief one-on-one.  Their talks focussed on Cyprus, the situation in Iraq and the Middle East.  They also reviewed Austrian-UN relations. 

    Afterwards, the Secretary-General met one-on-one with Austrian President Thomas Klestil.  He and the President then called on Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who was in Vienna on an official visit.  Their three-way talks started with a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, including its impact on the humanitarian situation among Palestinians and blockages at checkpoints that threaten international aid efforts.  They talked of efforts to make progress in the search for peace in light of Israel’s declared intention to begin withdrawing unilaterally from Palestinian areas.  They also had an extended discussion of the situation in Iraq and the prospective UN role there in light of the security challenge.

    On Friday morning, the Secretary-General opened the spring session of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), made up of the heads of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.  The Board meets twice a year, and this spring’s meeting was hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna.  He paid a special welcome to Francesco Frangialli, the head of the World Tourism Organization, which last December was voted by the General Assembly as the United Nations system’s newest specialized agency.

    After a three-hour regular session, the members of the CEB attended a luncheon hosted by the Director-General of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei.

    The CEB members then flew by helicopter to a resort at Baden, just outside of Vienna, where they had a three-hour private discussion.  This was followed by a dinner hosted by Austria’s Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

    The Secretary-General wrapped up the two-day meeting with more than two dozen heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes in Baden, Austria, on Saturday, 3 April.  At the end of a closed session in the morning attended by principals only, the UN Chief Executives jointly issued an appeal for an end to the serious human rights violations taking place in Darfur, Sudan.

    In a joint press statement, they expressed their deepest concern over the rights violations and the worsening humanitarian crisis developing in that region and called on the perpetrators to immediately stop.  They also demanded unimpeded access to the affected population for humanitarian workers.  In this regard, they welcomed the offer by the Government of the Sudan to the Secretary-General to send a UN mission to assess the situation in Darfur.

    They also welcomed the peace initiative undertaken by the Government of Chad and called on all concerned to cooperate fully with this important initiative and to enter into a humanitarian ceasefire as an immediate first step.  (See Press Release SG/SM/9241-AFR/884 of 5 April.)

    The Secretary-General departed Vienna in the morning of Sunday, 4 April, flying to Moscow for an official visit to the Russian Federation.

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