Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrived in Khartoum on Monday to start an official visit in Sudan which has been termed by the Sudanese government as a "historic."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (2nd L) waves as he walks with Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol (2nd R) after arriving in Khartoum September 3, 2007.
During the five-day visit, the first for the UN chief in Sudan since assuming office at the beginning of this year, Ban is set to meet Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, the two vice presidents and other senior officials in the Sudanese government as well as leaders of the oppositions parties.
The talks are expected to be focused on Darfur issues, where a number of civilians have been killed and over one million displaced since the conflict erupted in February, 2003 between the government forces helped by pro-government militia and rebel movements seeking a redistribution of wealth and power with the government.
Last week, Ban told a press conference in the UN headquarters that "I want to create the foundations of a lasting peace and security," adding that "my goal is to lock in the progress we have made so far, to build on it so that this terrible trauma may one day cease."
Meanwhile, the UN sources said that Ban Ki-moon will ask for a quick implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1769, which authorizes the deployment of 26,000-strong hybrid peacekeeping force of the UN and the African Union (AU) in Darfur before the end of this year.
Besides the talks in Khartoum, the UN chief is also scheduled to pay a tour in southern Sudan and Darfur.
However, this was not the first visit for Ban ki-moon personally in Sudan since he had visited his daughter who used to work for the UNICEF in the African country.
Sirajaddin Hamid, Director of the Department of Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described Ban's visit in Sudan as a "historic," noting that "the UN chief will receive a special welcome from the Sudanese government because of a big development of relations between the UN and Sudan since this year."
Hamid disclosed that Ban Ki-moon's visit came in response to an invitation of the Sudanese president during their meeting on the sidelines of the latest UN general assembly in New York.
Earlier, Abdul al-Mahmoud Abdul al-Halim, the representative of the Sudanese government in the UN, expected that during Ban's visit the two sides would announce the date and place of the next round of peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel movements.
In August this year, under the sponsorship of the UN and the AU, several Darfur rebel groups agreed at the end of their four-day meetings in Arusha, Tanzania, to resume the peace talks with the Sudanese government within three months without defining the date and place of the next peace negotiations.
In addition to the Darfur peace negotiations, Abdul al-Halim said Ban's talks in Sudan would also deal with the arrangements for the deployment of the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping forces in the western Sudanese region according to Resolution 1769 adopted by the UN Security Council on July 31, and the international contribution in the reconstruction and development in Darfur.
Ban Ki-moon said that he would move forward a three-point action plan in Darfur, noting that the first point of the plan was the peace keeping and the second point was to push the peace process.
"The third element in my action plan for Darfur involves humanitarian aid and development. Any peace in Darfur must be built on solutions that go to the root causes of the conflict," the UN chief stressed.
During his one day visit in Darfur, the UN secretary general will inspect Abushok, the biggest refugee camp on the outskirts of Fashir, North Darfur state to get acquainted with the situations of some 90 thousand displaced people living there. This will be the first visit of a UN secretary general in a refugee camp in Darfur.
(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2007)