Obama meets Ban Ki moon to discuss Libya

Obama meets Ban Ki moon to discuss Libya Washington: US President Barack Obama met UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to discuss further steps in the international bid to deter the violence by Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi against anti-government protesters in the African nation.

Obama met Ban at his Oval office of the White House yesterday.

"With respect to Libya, the Secretary General indicated that he intended to name a senior-level person to coordinate the United Nations humanitarian and political efforts with respect to Libya," US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters at the White House.

"That was something that we had encouraged and welcomed. So there was a real effort discussed and agreed that would help to coordinate and consolidate both the humanitarian response, particularly with respect to Libya, and the political efforts to help support the democratic transformations that we hope are underway in various parts of the region," she said.

The UN has played a positive and important role in efforts to end the bloodshed there and to hold the Gaddafi regime accountable, Rice said, adding that "Indeed, in Libya, the United Nations is demonstrating the indispensable role that it can play in advancing our interests and defending our values."

Rice said Obama and Ban also discussed the region broadly and the international efforts, including those led and coordinated by the United Nations, to be responsive to developments in each of these countries.

"So, for example, the Secretary General reported that he has sent high-level teams to both Egypt and Tunisia to engage those governments about the process of transition and the political support that the United Nations and the international community might be able to provide in support of those political transitions," she said.

Obama and Ban discussed the situation elsewhere in the Middle East as well as the situation in C’te d’Ivoire. "With respect to C’te d’Ivoire, they expressed their concern about the escalation of violence there and the need to enable the legitimately elected president, Alassane Quattara, to assume responsibility for governing C’te d’Ivoire," she said.

Sudan referendum was also discussed during the meeting.

"They discussed the vital work that the UN and the international community have still to do, along with the parties to the Sudanese conflict, to resolve outstanding issues and ensure lasting peace as the South gains its independence in July of this year," Rice said.

The President and the Secretary General also shared ideas to build on the strengths of the United Nations while pursuing and implementing important management reforms as well as budgetary discipline.

"Obama reaffirmed the administration’s strong belief that the United Nations continues to play a vital role in addressing tough, global and transnational threats, and in doing so, its work enhances the safety and well-being of the American people," Rice said.

Obama, UN chief raise Ivory Coast concerns

US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about rising violence in the Ivory Coast, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said.

"They expressed their concern about the violence there and the need to enable the legitimately elected president to be able to govern," Rice told reporters at the White House.

Obama and Ban met at the White House yesterday as UN sources said forces loyal to strongman Laurent Gbagbo opened fire on UN sanctions experts who tried to check on a suspected breach of an international arms embargo of the country.

Ban later toured the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, where he told reporters that Gbagbo should step down and hand power to his rival in a presidential election held in November, Alassane Ouattara.

The international community has widely recognized Ouattara as the winner of the election, but Gbagbo, who has been in power for 10 years and survived a bid to oust him in 2002, has refused to accept the result and stand aside.

"The winner of the election in Cote d'Ivoire is Mr Ouattara, and Mr Gbagbo should cede power to preserve peace and stability and the future of Cote d'Ivoire," Ban said after touring the museum, which was set up as a memorial to the six million victims of the Holocaust in World War II.

There have been increasing clashes between supporters of Gbagbo and Ouattara in recent days.

UN sources said that yesterday forces loyal to Gbagbo opened fire on UN experts who had gone to Yamoussoukro airport to investigate reports that the former Soviet republic of Belarus had sent attack helicopters to Ivory Coast.

Belarus has denied breaching the UN arms embargo.

But Ban said yesterday in Washington that the United Nations had "credible information that the government of Belarus may be providing attack helicopters" to Gbagbo loyalists.