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NEW YORK, March 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, late in the evening of 4 March, after a stopover in Monrovia. Upon arrival in Freetown, the Secretary-General was greeted by Samura M.W. Kamara, the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The next day, Wednesday, 5 March, the Secretary-General had a brief meeting with Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone. He then took part in a working breakfast with the United Nations country team and the senior management of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), followed by a town hall meeting with United Nations staff in the country.

The Secretary-General then held a tête-à-tête with the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, which was followed by an expanded meeting with members of his Cabinet. In the joint press conference afterwards, the Secretary-General said that he had had very constructive discussion with President Koroma on a number of issues, including the continued cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. He said that Sierra Leone represents one of the world's most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, with great strides taken towards peace, stability and long-term development. The Secretary-General then attended a luncheon hosted by the President in his honour.

Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with representatives of the 10 main political parties in Sierra Leone, as well as with representatives of civil society.

He then attended the ceremony marking the closure of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office. In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that Sierra Leone had taught the world many lessons, but none more important than the power of people to shape the future. He added that here we see that a strong investment — in material resources, human energy, international support and national goodwill — can bring lasting peace. (See Press Release SG/SM/15686.) During the ceremony, he presented the President of Sierra Leone with a blue helmet as a symbol of past engagement and future cooperation between the United Nations and the country. Later that evening, the Secretary-General and his wife attended a dinner hosted by the President in his honour.

On Thursday, 6 March, early in the morning, the Secretary-General and his wife left Freetown. In a stopover in London, the Secretary-General met with Fahma Mohamed, a campaigner against female genital mutilation. He arrived in New York late that evening.