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Importance of UN, European cooperation tops Ban's talks with senior EU official

20 October 2010 – The importance of the cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union on a range of issues, including on the Middle East, topped Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s talks today with a senior EU official in France.

Before departing Strasbourg for New York, Mr. Ban met this morning with Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

They conferred on the status of the direct talks under way between Israelis and Palestinians, with Mr. Ban emphasizing the importance of negotiations and reaffirming the readiness of the diplomatic quartet – comprising the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States – to support them.

The Secretary-General and Ms. Ashton also discussed the situation in Sudan, including preparations for January’s referenda, which stand at a critical juncture.

On 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.

During their meeting today, the two officials also discussed Somalia, Iran, Pakistan and Kosovo.

Yesterday, Mr. Ban addressed the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, warning the continent against a new “politics of polarization,” discrimination and intolerance over immigration, with Muslim immigrants as primary targets.

“Almost seven years ago, my predecessor Kofi Annan stood before you,” he told the 27-nation European Parliament in Strasbourg. “In his address, he made an impassioned call for Europe to seize the opportunities presented by immigration and to resist those who demonized these newcomers as ‘the other.’ I wish I could report, today, that the situation in Europe has improved over the intervening years. But as a friend of Europe, I share profound concern.”

In a speech earlier in the day to the 47-nation Council of Europe, whose 800 million citizens number some 300 million more than those represented in the European Union’s parliament, he highlighted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ proclamation of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.

“That is our base line,” he declared at the session marking the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. “That is our standard. There are no exceptions. In a complicated and connected world, this mission is essentially simple and simply essential.”

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