The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Baghdad just after midnight on Wednesday, 1 March.


Upon his arrival, he had a joint press encounter with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Iraq, Fuad Mohammad Hussein, at the airport in which he said that this visit was one of solidarity with the people and the democratic institutions of Iraq and he reiterated that the United Nations is committed to support the consolidation of the institutions in the country.  He then stayed at the Prime Minister’s Guesthouse.


In the morning, he had a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Hussein which was followed by a meeting with President Abdullatif Jamal Rashid.


In the early afternoon, he met with Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani.  This was followed by a joint press encounter in which the Secretary-General applauded the Prime Minister for his commitment to addressing the most pressing challenges facing the country head on — including combating corruption, improving public services and diversifying the economy to reduce unemployment and create opportunities, especially for young people.


The Secretary-General then met with the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Mohammed Mohamed Al-Halbousi.


In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the United Nations compound in Baghdad and held a townhall meeting with the staff from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), the United Nations country team and the ‏‏United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD).  This was followed by a meeting with youth and women’s groups.


In the evening, the Secretary-General visited the National Museum of Iraq.  At the end of the visit, the Secretary-General signed a guestbook and had a brief press encounter on his impressions of the museum.


“I’m here to pay tribute to all those working in this museum, preserving it in the difficult times that Iraq has faced, which allow us to be able to contemplate the magnificent culture and history of this wonderful country,” he told journalists.


He had a press conference in the early evening at the Al Rasheed Hotel in which he said that when he visited Iraq six years ago, the war against Da’esh was still raging and that his visit was one of solidarity in a moment of urgency.  Today, it is a visit of hope for the future of Iraq, he said, adding that with a new Government in place, there is a window of opportunity for progress.


This was followed by a dinner hosted by the Primed Minister at the Government Palace.


The next day, the Secretary-General travelled by plane to the Al Qayyarah Airfield and then by car to the Jeddah Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre in Ninevah Province, which houses Iraqis that have been repatriated from the Al-Hol camp in Syria.  At the camp, he toured the facilities and heard from residents about their concerns, which included being able to obtain proper identification and being reunited with family members who are still in Al-Hol.


During his visit, the Secretary-General also met with United Nations staff from various agencies who provide services at the Centre.  Before his departure, he had a press encounter outside the Centre in which he made a call to all Member States that have nationals in Al-Hol and elsewhere.  He said that all Member States must significantly step up their efforts to facilitate the safe and dignified repatriation of their nationals.  They need to follow the example of Iraq, he said, adding that Iraq is not one of the richest countries in the world, but Iraq is having returnees back from Al-Hol.  All countries with their citizens in Al-Hol must do the same.


The Secretary-General then flew to Erbil.  At the Greenhouse Guesthouse he met with President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Idris Barzani.  This was followed by a meeting with Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, and then with Kurdistan Region Parliament Speaker Rewaz Faeq Hussein.  He then met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani.


Following his bilateral meetings, the Secretary-General held a press conference in which he said that we are now facing an opportunity for Iraq, and an opportunity for the Kurdish region of Iraq.  And that opportunity can translate itself into reality if Iraqis are able to come together and unite, and if, in this region, people can also come together and unite.


That evening, the Secretary-General had a joint dinner with Kurdistan Region officials.


The Secretary-General departed to Doha that night to attend the fifth Conference on the Least Developed Countries.


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