Annan Leaves on First Trip to Middle East
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan left New York on Friday to begin a weeklong visit to Middle Eastern countries closely involved with the role of the United Nations in southern Lebanon.
Annan's spokesman's office said he would spend Friday night on a private visit to London and start his official tour on Saturday in Morocco.
He is due to meet the new king, Mohammed VI, and Foreign Minister Mohammed Benaissa in the capital, Rabat, before traveling south to Casablanca to meet Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Annan will travel on Saturday night to Tehran, where he has scheduled meetings on Sunday with President Mohammad Khatami and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It will be Annan's second visit to Iran as secretary general of the United Nations.
He attended the eighth summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference there in December 1997.
Annan is due to fly to Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa. He has a meeting scheduled with President Hosni Mubarak on Monday before he continues to Beirut to meet Lebanese officials.
In Beirut he is due to meet President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Salim Hoss and the speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri.
Annan is also due to visit the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has its headquarters in the southern coastal town of Naqoura.
On Tuesday, he will go to Amman to meet King Abdullah and prime minister Abdul Rau'f Rawabdeh and foreign minister Abdul-Ilah Khatib.
Annan was last in the Middle East on February 8 last year, when he attended the funeral of Abdallah's father, King Hussein.
Annan will go to Jerusalem on Wednesday, to Ramallah in the West Bank on Thursday, and to Damascus on Friday.
His spokesman's office said his appointments there had yet to be scheduled - UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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