Last updated: 13 August, 2013

UN chief to tour Middle East this week

UN chief Ban Ki-moon will tour the Middle East this week to “buttress” Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the UN announced Tuesday.

The trip will come on the heels of Ban’s visit to Pakistan, which wraps up Wednesday, and as Israeli and Palestinian parties are slated to return to the negotiating table for their next round of talks.

The secretary-general will visit Jordan, Ramallah and Jerusalem in a tour meant to buoy the peace process, UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said.

In Jordan, Ban will meet with King Abdullah II and the country’s minister of foreign affairs.

His stop in Ramallah will include visits with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and caretaker prime minister Rami Hamdallah. He will also visit the tomb of Yasser Arafat.

In Israel, Ban will meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and stop at assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s tomb and memorial at Mount Herzl.

The UN is part of the Middle East Quartet involved in peace negotiations. The group also includes the US, Russia and the European Union.

The secretary-general’s tour will be an opportunity for him to meet with principal negotiators from both sides in addition to Martin Indyk, special US envoy for Middle East talks.

The United States took the lead last month in securing an agreement to resume negotiations between Israel and Palestinians after a three-year hiatus. Parties are slated to continue discussion on Wednesday in Jerusalem, having resumed talks in Washington in July.

Ban is currently in Pakistan where he will wrap up a second day of talks in Islamabad on Wednesday.