UN Sec-Gen meets Gabon, Equatorial Guinea leaders on border dispute
- New York, United States - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday held a trilateral meeting with the presidents of the Gabon and Equatorial Guinea on the border dispute between the two countries. The Pan African News Agency (PANA) learnt that the meeting, which lasted for about four hours here, was convened by the secretary-general to discuss the ongoing UN-led mediation on the dispute.
Ban also met the two leaders separately in his office. UN spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told PANA the meeting was attended by the Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba and President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, as well as diplomats from the two countries and senior UN officials. 'It will be the first time the two heads of state will meet to talk specifically about this issue,' he said. Nesirky also said the meeting was a 'meaningful step' towards the submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well as in the overall relations between the two countries. He quoted Ban as saying the presence of the two leaders and their delegations 'underscores the commitment of your two neighbouring states to pursue peacefully the settlement of the dispute through UN mediation.'
'The secretary-general also said this shared determination to see peace prevail was a credit to not only Equatorial Guinea and Gabon but the entire Central African sub-region,' the spokesperson said. 'Ban also assured the two leaders of UN's support and his personal engagement to assist them succeed in the process,' Nesirky added.
PANA reported that both countries have been trying to solve the problem with the mediation of the UN since the days of the late Gabonese president Omar Bongo Ondimba. Equatorial Guinea and Gabon have been involved in a maritime dispute over the ownership of Mbanie, an oil-rich island, since 2003. However, until the dispute is resolved, the two Central African states have agreed to jointly exploit the area.
At present, Gabon is one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.