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Reform, Security & Aids - Annan's Talks In India

New York, Apr 27 2005 1:00PM

Secretary-General Kofi Annan met today with India's top leaders for talks on a range of issues, including United Nations reform, regional security, post-tsunami recovery work and HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary-General began the day with a visit to the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat, where he and his wife, Nane, laid a wreath and then offered handfuls of rose petals, considered a sign of respect, at the flower-strewn cremation site.

His first meeting was with External Relations Minister Natwar Singh at the historic Hyderabad House before moving on to discussions with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the President's residence.

Following a luncheon hosted by Mr. Singh, Mr. Annan met with opposition leader L.K. Advani and then with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Afterwards he met with Sonia Ghandi, Chairperson of the Indian National Congress Party.

The topics discussed during the Secretary-General's meetings with the Indian officials ranged from UN reform to the regional security situation in India's neighbourhood, with particular emphasis on the country's relations with Pakistan and with China, as well as the situation in Nepal.

Other subjects included the post-tsunami relief and reconstruction efforts and possibilities for cooperation between India and the United Nations in disaster preparedness and response, peacekeeping, terrorism, human rights, the situation in the Middle East, including Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Lebanon.

This afternoon, following a meeting with the Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, the Secretary-General chaired a roundtable on HIV/AIDS, the main focus of which was the stigma and discrimination faced by people in India living with the virus.

Saying that HIV/AIDS was a personal priority of his, the Secretary-General asked the participants to describe what they would like to see people in the community do differently to ensure an environment free of stigma, and innovative experiences underway to tackle the problem. He also asked about awareness raising, prevention and care from their perspective. Mrs. Annan drew attention to the need to treat with dignity people living with AIDS, especially women.

In the evening, Mr. and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister.

In a separate programme, Mrs. Annan visited a training and sensitization programme, supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), for Delhi police personnel on HIV/AIDS issues, with particular focus on their dealings with marginalized and vulnerable people.

To date, 12,000 police officers have received training on the basics of HIV - transmission, prevention, testing, treatment, care and support, stigma and discrimination - as well as myths and misconceptions, gender and rights, legal and ethical issues, and living with HIV infected and affected people.

Mrs. Annan commended the police for their leadership in the drive to create an AIDS-free India, describing them as "torchbearers" in their outreach efforts with colleagues, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools and the community at large.

Mrs. Annan also met with a group of Indian women activists brought together by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to discuss progress on issues facing women such as violence, trafficking, HIV/AIDS, legislative issues, political participation and economic development.

2005-04-27 00:00:00.000

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