Ban Ki Moon has been holding a top-level post since October 2006. Before 2006 Ban Ki Moon represented South Korea in the United Nations for many years and also occupied the post of the Minister of foreign affairs and trade. Ban Ki Moon is the 8th UN Secretary-General in the United Nations history, and this was his 3rd official visit to Russia.
Moscow attached paramount importance to this visit. A major announcement was made well in advance that Ban Ki Moon would be received by Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev. In fact, this was a mini-summit, since the UN Secretary-General is often called the president of the world community. The UN currently unites more than 190 countries of the world, which makes it a very responsible and influential post. Russia has always acknowledged the United Nations’ pivotal role for the safeguarding of peace and security in the world. Speaking at the session of the UN General Assembly last year, President Dmitry Medvedev said: “The establishment of the United Nations was one of the main achievements of the world community in the 20th century. There is no and there cannot be any alternative to its work. It is necessary to preserve and strengthen this common property of the peoples of the world.”
Officially, the main objective of this visit is the participation of the UN Secretary-General in the session of the so-called “Quartet of Peace Mediators” dealing with the settlement of the Middle East crisis. Besides the United Nations, the “Quartet” includes Russia, the USA, and the European Union. Though their meeting is slated for March 19th, Ban Ki Moon arrived in advance, aiming to hold separate talks with the Russian leadership. The topics are well known. Besides the previously mentioned Middle East topic, also on the list are the developments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, and also the observance of nuclear non-proliferation at large. The two latter issues are regarded as the most acute. Ahead of his visit to Moscow, in an interview for the Russian RIA Novosti news agency Ban Ki Moon said that consultations are currently underway in the UN Security Council on the possible introduction of tougher international sanctions against Iran.