UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will visit Ireland next week for the first time since taking office, it was revealed today.
The top diplomat will meet with the President, Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers during the two-day official visit on July 7 and 8.
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said he was delighted the UN chief had accepted an invitation to visit Ireland.
“For Ireland, commitment to the United Nations has long been a cornerstone of our foreign policy and we remain strongly supportive of its role and work in areas such as peace-keeping, disarmament, development and humanitarian action,” he said.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen will host a working lunch with the Secretary General in Government Buildings on July 7, while Mr Martin will host a dinner and talks on the same day.
Mr Ban has also been invited by the Institute for International and European Affairs to give an address on United Nations peacekeeping.
Ireland’s role in UN-mandated peace missions will form the basis of a meeting with the Army Chief of Staff and Defence Minister Willie O’Dea.
“Since assuming office in January 2007, Secretary General Ban has provided wise leadership to the United Nations, particularly in relation to such important global challenges as climate change,” Mr Martin added.
“The UN role also remains crucial in relation to securing progress in such difficult political situations as the Middle East and Burma.
“I look forward to discussing these and many other issues with the Secretary General during the course of his visit, including UN reform and the increasingly close and productive relationship between the EU and UN in the area of international peace and security.”
Mr Ban visited Ireland before when serving as Foreign Minister for the Republic of Korea, but never as UN Secretary General.
His predecessor Kofi Annan visited in October 2004.