United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday met Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, who remarked that he was not angry with the UN chief for briefly blacklisting a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen.
Mohamed bin Salman is in New York this week, mainly for meetings with business leaders, after a visit to Washington and the US West Coast. Earlier this month the Saudis urged the United Nations to remove the Saudi-led Yemen coalition from a list of countries that maim and kill children during armed conflicts, UN officials said.
Ban then withdrew the Saudis from the list pending a review of cases the UN had analysed, though he publicly criticised the Saudi pressure on him.
The Saudis have denied pressuring Ban, though they said the UN report was inaccurate.
On his way into the meeting, Salman was asked if he was still angry with Ban over the blacklisting.
“I’m not angry,” he said.
Salman, who is also the kingdom’s defence minister, did not answer questions when he left the meeting.
It was not clear what was said, though one diplomatic source told Reuters without any detail that the meeting “went well.”
Salman kept Ban waiting for 45 minutes before arriving with his advisers and security detail.
Also scheduled to attend the meeting was Leila Zerrougui, the UN special representative on children and armed conflict who originally decided to blacklist the Saudi-led coalition.
Zerrougui had vehemently opposed Ban’s decision to remove the Saudis from the blacklist, UN diplomatic sources said.
The UN report on children and armed conflict said the coalition, which began an air campaign in March 2015 to defeat Iran-allied Houthi rebels, was responsible for killing 510 children and wounding 667, or 60% of such deaths and injuries in the conflict last year.
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