UN chief meets with Olmert in Jerusalem

Monday, March 26, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo) on Monday morning at his Jerusalem residence.

This is Ban’s first visit to the Middle East as UN chief, who refused to meet with Hamas officials.

The two leaders were expected to discuss moving forward in the peace process, including the Quartet’s position on the Palestinian unity government and Israel’s kidnapped soldiers.

Ban met with Fatah officials and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday. The following day he toured a Palestinian refugee camp and a portion of Israel’s security fence in Judea and Samaria. Ban said by visiting these areas it has strengthened his resolve to work for Mideast peace.

The Israeli army cancelled a ban on Palestinians traveling with Israelis or foreigners on Sunday following criticism from human rights groups.

During his visit, the UN secretary-general called for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He is scheduled to meet with the Shalit family as well as with the families of the soldiers kidnapped during the Lebanon war.

Concerning the security fence, Ban said it was “a very sad and tragic thing to see many suffering from the construction of this wall, depriving opportunities for basic living.”

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