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JSR Gambari holds series of meetings on Darfur in Addis Ababa

January 30, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – One week after his arrival to Sudan on January 22, the newly appointed Joint Special Representative (JSR) for UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari, held a series of meetings on the sideline of the 14th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa.

Mr. Gambari, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, has committed to stepping up peacekeepers’ involvement in the Darfur peace process being hosted by international mediators in Doha, Qatar. He heads a military and police mission in Darfur that is mandated to grow to 26,000 people, roughly 75 percent of whom have deployed.

On Friday upon his arrival in Addis Ababa, Mr. Gambari was formally received by the AU Commissioner for Peace & Security, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra.

Later in the day, the peacekeeping chief met with Chinese Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Zhai Jun. They discussed issues related to Darfur, according to a press statement from UNAMID. "The JSR also seized the opportunity to pay tribute to the Chinese peacekeepers deployed in South Darfur and whose engineering efforts in building the UNAMID’s new headquarters and drilling water wells, were proving an invaluable service to the local population, as well as to UNAMID," said the statement.

He also met with several Special Envoys to Sudan, including Ambassador Sato of Japan, Michael O’Neil of the United Kingdom, Gen. Scott Gration of the United States, and Issa Marout of France. They discussed the Darfur peace process.

Mr. Gambari is scheduled to meet with AU Commission leadership, as well as several diplomatic delegations. The UNAMID chief, together with other senior United Nations officials attended a meeting today with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In separate meetings, joined by Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Alain Le Roy, Mr. Gambari met with Dr. Ghazi Salah Al Deen, Special Advisor to the Sudanese President in charge of the Darfur File, and Dr. Moustapha Ismail, Advisor to the Sudanese President. According to UNAMID’s press office, in the course of the meetings the men discussed the forthcoming general elections, the peace process in Darfur and UNAMID’s mandate.

"The JSR stressed UNAMID’s priorities: enhancing the security of civilians and IDPs; providing more proactive support for the ongoing peace process; and, assisting in the normalization of relations between Chad and the Sudan. The two presidential advisors reiterated the full support of the Government of the Sudan for UNAMID, and its’ new leadership," stated the press release.

Mr. Gambari also had meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Sierra Leone, Senegal, Rwanda and Nigeria, and with the Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Frank Belfrage.

Today closed with the JSR accompanying UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.