Ban arrives in Geneva ahead of talks on Georgia

14 October 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Geneva today for talks on the role of the United Nations mission in Georgia after the August conflict with Russia in the Caucasus country. Mr. Ban was attending a working dinner on the issue, a day in advance of technical level meetings with representatives of the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at which he will be represented by his Special Representative for Georgia, Johan Verbeke.Earlier today he met with EU Special Representative for Georgia Pierre Morel and OSCE Secretary-General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut. Mr. Ban reported to the Security Council earlier this month that dramatic changes due to the Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia had cast a veil of uncertainty over the future function of the 14-year-old UN mission entrusted with overseeing the ceasefire accord between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in north-western Georgia.The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has no jurisdiction in the nearby South Ossetia region.But Mr. Ban noted in the report that in view of official statements and decisions by Georgia and Russia it seemed unlikely that the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force in the Abkhazia region would have any role in the separation of forces between the two sides. It was still unclear what arrangement, if any, would fulfil that function, he said. Also today, Mr. Ban had a working lunch with the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Supachai Panitchpakdi, and visited the headquarters of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), where he underlined the “critical importance to the UN as a whole” of UNHCR leadership in hot-spots worldwide.The Secretary-General underscored priority commitments for the UN and UNHCR, including the impact of climate change, the food crisis and the financial crisis on refugees and displaced persons. He also met with Djibril Bassolé, the joint African Union-UN Chief Mediator for Darfur.Later today, he was to meet with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and with Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

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