x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UN chief to visit Emirates this month

UN Secretary-General Ban to visit the UAE to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and other Middle East issues.

DUBAI // Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, is to visit the UAE this month as part of a regional tour to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and other Middle East issues.

Mr Ban said he was "gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria, where thousands have lost their lives since March last and people continue to be killed each day".

The tour is also to include a three-day visit to Lebanon this week during which Mr Ban will meet the Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman, the prime minister, Najib Mikati, and commanders of Unifil, a UN peacekeeping force.

Also on Mr Ban's agenda is a meeting tomorrow in Amman between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators, their second round of face-to-face talks in the stalled peace process. "I'm very much encouraged by this meeting," he said.

Mr Ban might later visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour said there was an "agreement in principle" that the UN chief would visit Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is based, at the end of January.

A UN official said Syria will also be among topics of discussion during Mr Ban's visit to Lebanon and the Emirates.

Mr Ban and Qatar's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, have previously discussed the Arab League request for UN help with its observer mission in Syria. Sheikh Hamad acknowledged that league monitors had made mistakes.

The UN says 5,000 people have been killed in a 10-month crackdown by government forces.

Syrian activists say the Arab League monitors did not have enough access and were escorted by Syrian authorities, who manipulated them and hid prisoners in military facilities.

The UN Security Council plans to discuss an Arab League progress report on its monitoring mission in Syria on Tuesday.

European and US officials have urged the council to take up the issue of Syria again.




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