Washington, DC –Tom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today led the committee in a discussion with new United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon covering a wide range of topics, including the broad subject of U.N. reform and the specifics of potential for more energized intervention in the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.
“Ban Ki-moon is a highly capable, effective diplomat,” Lantos observed. “He has come to Washington with a clear-eyed view of the challenges involved in trying to create consensus among 192 diverse and sometimes unruly U.N. member-countries, while also working to improve relations with the United States. As Secretary General Ban himself noted this morning, the U.S.-U.N. relationship has not always been easy, but U.S. leadership is essential to the success of the United Nations – and a key component of that leadership is support from the United States Congress.”
Lantos commended Secretary General Ban for making transparency and accountability his number one administrative goal, and committing to change in the U.N. working culture to that effect, starting with taking the unprecedented step of making his own financial disclosure form public. Lantos also said he was encouraged to hear the Secretary General underscore his commitment to finding a resolution in Darfur, which Ban said is at the top of his policy agenda. The Secretary General promised that he would press the matter with leaders in the region when he travels there later this month.
More than 20 Republican and Democratic members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs attended the breakfast meeting, along with Ban’s traveling delegation. Other topics of discussion included a forthcoming U.N. report on Kosovo, protection of refugees, the U.N.’s track record on Israel and efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.