Ban gives statement on U.N. involvement in Egypt, Syria, Pakistan and Middle East
This was Ban's first press conference since returning from his trip to the Middle East and Pakistan. He announced the U.N. plans to support Egypt in a peaceful approach to resolving the current crisis, which has caused 500 deaths and injured thousands this past week.
"I have asked the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeff Feltman, to hold wide-ranging discussions in Cairo starting from tomorrow with a focus on how the United Nations can best support initiatives to restore peace and forge reconciliation in Egypt," Ban said.
Ban also said that the U.N. investigation team, led by Åke Sellström, has deployed in Damascus and will spend two weeks in Syria, with the possibility of an extension, investigating alleged use of chemical weapons. The U.N. received the Syrian Government's word that the investigation team will be protected during its trip.
"If confirmed, the use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances must be held accountable and would constitute an international crime," Ban said. "Anyone responsible must be held accountable."
In regard to his stay in the Middle East to observe peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, Ban said there is hope for a peaceful future, based on some profound conversations he had with the youth of the nations.
"There is at last a fresh opportunity for real progress towards a peace agreement," Ban said. "Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders must seize this historic opportunity."
Finally, Ban said his trip to Pakistan deepened the roots between the nation and the U.N.
"I left confident that the close bonds between Pakistan and the U.N. are growing even stronger," Ban said. "We will continue to support Pakistan as it tackles challenges at home and strengthen their relationship with neighbors."