13 May 2006

Secretary-General Kofi Annan Concludes Visit to Austria

VIENNA, 13 May (UN Information Service) - The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan left Vienna today after a three-day visit to attend the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Secretary-General gave the keynote address at the opening of the Summit on Friday 12 May attended by Heads of State and Government from 60 countries of the European Union including the acceding countries Bulgaria and Romania and of Latin America and the Caribbean.  He focused on the challenges of rising youth unemployment, confronting both regions, which he described as "a grave and growing problem", and he recommended some necessary approaches to productive employment for young people.

He said: "Being unemployed early in life takes a heavy and enduring toll on the individual.  It can damage prospects for employment later in life.  The habit of working once lost is very difficult to recover, leading to a cycle of despair, poverty and social instability, a cycle that's destructive not only for their own lives but for society as a whole."

"We cannot afford to let this vicious circle continue any longer," he said.  "Youth is our most valuable asset - our future.  We must nurture it."

The Secretary-General participated in the only official Summit press conference with the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and Mexican President Vicente Fox, the Co-Presidents of the Summit.

During his stay the Secretary-General held a series of meetings with senior Austrian officials, the Chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, the Federal President Heinz Fischer and the Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.  

The Secretary-General also held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. He met with the Presidents of Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Finland, Chile and Brazil.  He met with heads and senior officials of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) countries and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank.

On Thursday 11 May the Secretary-General held a town hall meeting with the staff of the United Nations system at UN Headquarters in Vienna.

The Secretary-General is travelling to Seoul in the Republic of Korea today on the first leg of a trip to Asia during which he will visit Japan, China, Viet Nam and Thailand.

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