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Annan's Five-Nation Tour Will Not Include Iran

Annan's Upcoming Five-Nation Tour Will Not Include Iran -- UN Spokesman

Secretary-General Kofi Annan heads out for a five-nation tour this weekend to the Middle East, North Africa and earthquake-ravaged Pakistan, but the trip will not include a previously scheduled visit to Iran, his spokesman said today.

"The Secretary-General and the Iranian Government have mutually agreed that this is not an appropriate time for him to travel to Iran," said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Last month, the Secretary-General had spoken out against remarks attributed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. At the time, Mr. Dujarric said the Secretary-General would use his visit to focus on the Middle East peace process, and the right of all States in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. Today, the spokesman explained that: "In light of the ongoing controversy, it would have been difficult to advance the agenda that he had wanted to discuss with the Iranian leadership."

The Secretary-General departs this weekend for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Pakistan. He is traveling through Paris, where is scheduled to meet with President Jacques Chirac on Monday.

In the Middle East he will focus, among other issues, on regional stability, the Middle East peace process, Iraq, and the follow-up to September's World Summit, according to the spokesman. In Cairo, the Secretary-General will meet with President Hosni Mubarak as well as senior members of the Egyptian Government. He is expected to meet with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. He is also expected to visit the Pyramids Smart Village, an information technology project of the Egyptian Government.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will deliver the First Nadia Younes Memorial lecture, so named to honour the memory of the former UN official who lost her life during the 2003 terrorist bombing of the world body's Ba In Riyadh, the Secretary-General will meet with King Abdullah and senior members of the Saudi Government. In Tunis, the Secretary-General will open the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which is being hosted by the Government of Tunisia. He will also participate in the World Electronic Media Forum and the launch of the $100 laptop by Professor Nicholas Negroponte of MIT Media Lab, the spokesman said. In order to draw the world's attention to the absolute critical need for assistance to be mobilized before winter sets in, the Secretary-General will also travel to Pakistan. He will visit areas struck by the disaster, and will meet with President Pervez Musharraf. He is also expected to address a major conference on Pakistan's needs for post-quake rehabilitation.

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