UN chief in S.Africa to discuss financial crisis, Zimbabwe, climate
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to discuss the global financial crisis, Zimbabwe's fragile power-sharing government and climate change with South Africa's leadership at the start of his five-nation Africa tour Wednesday, dpa reported.
Ban arrived in South Africa on Tuesday evening on his first visit to the African powerhouse as United Nations chief. He was met on arrival in Johannesburg by Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
On Wednesday, Ban and President Kgalema Motlanthe were, according to the Foreign Ministry in Pretoria, to discuss developments in Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and other African states embroiled in political turmoil or war.
The global financial crisis, climate change, UN structural reform and the second UN racism conference to be held in Geneva in April were also on the agenda of the talks.
Although South Africa has been less affected by the global downturn than northern economies, the impact of the crisis is beginning to be acutely felt. Thousands of jobs in manufacturing and mining have been axed since last year and on Monday, statistics revealed the economy had contracted by 1.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2008.
Ban is also scheduled to meet with Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who is meeting with his counterparts from across southern Africa in Cape Town Wednesday to discuss an aid package for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's new government is reported to be seeking up to 1 billion dollars to be able to cover its immediate bills.
With regard to UN reform, South Africa is a strong advocate of expanding the UN Security Council to include permanent members from the developing world. Only the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Japan currently have permanent membership of the top UN decision- making body.
Ban will spend two days in South Africa before continuing his visit in Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Egypt.
The UN said in a statement that Ban would be flying "over the receding ice cap of Mount Kilimanjaro" in Tanzania and would meet with the region's political leadership, as well as victims of conflict in eastern DR Congo.
He is to attend an international conference in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh resort on March 2 in support of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.