Visit by President of the International Committee of the Red Cross
The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr. Jakob Kellenberger, was in Dublin today for discussions on the Irish Presidency and other areas of cooperation between the Government and the ICRC. He had meetings with the Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights Mr. Tom Kitt T.D.; with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D.; and with the Minister for Defence, Mr. Michael Smith T.D. He also paid a courtesy call to President Mary McAleese.
In his discussions with Mr. Kellenberger, Minister of State Kitt paid tribute to the ongoing work of the ICRC in difficult and unstable security environments. In particular the recent Red Cross operations in Iraq and Liberia were of critical importance and Ireland was pleased to have been able to offer financial support for these lifesaving interventions.
Minister of State Kitt noted that a major priority for the Irish Presidency would be to push African issues up the EU agenda and to revitalise the EU's dialogue with Africa. He briefed Mr. Kellenberger on his meeting yesterday, 13 January, with the President of Burundi, H.E. Domitien Ndayizeye. The Minister also raised Ireland's work in relation to human rights and noted that a specific initiative for the Presidency will be to seek the adoption of EU guidelines to support Human Rights Defenders.
In his discussions with Minister of State Kitt, Mr. Kellenberger gave his assessment of the current situation in a number of countries emerging from conflict. He also discussed a number of issues relating to international humanitarian law with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and exchanged views on the current Middle East situation with the Minister in advance of the latter's visit to the region this week.