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ICRC President visits Brussels

31-05-2001 News Release 01/19

Geneva/Brussels (ICRC) - Mr Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, today visited Brussels where he had meetings with Mr Louis Michel, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, and with Mr Chris Patten, Member of the European Commission responsible for External Relations. The ICRC President also met with HRH Princess Astrid, President of the Belgian Red Cross, who was accompanied by senior officials of that country's Red Cross Society.

In his talks with Mr Michel, Mr Kellenberger reviewed the situation from the humanitarian standpoint in several regions where the ICRC has operations. The two men discussed in particular the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo — where six of the organization's staff were murdered last month — and in the Middle East, where the ICRC has repeatedly voiced its concern over the consequences in humanitarian terms of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

President Kellenberger also thanked Belgium — which in July assumes the Presidency of the European Union — for its support, both in terms of finance and in promoting international humanitarian law. He looked forward to continued close cooperation between the EU Council of Ministers and the ICRC, particularly in the fields of conflict prevention and crisis management. A meeting between the Political and Security Committee and the ICRC during the Belgian EU Presidency was agreed upon.

During his meeting with Commissioner Patten, Mr Kellenberger presented a broad overview of the ICRC's operational challenges which emphasized its partnership with the European Commission and the importance of the Commission's f inancial support (27 million Euros in 2000, making it the ICRC's fifthbiggest donor). He expressed the hope that new financial procedures being considered would enable the Commission to offer its support in a way that fully matches the flexibility needed by the ICRC to respond to continuously evolving situations in the field.

In his discussion with Princess Astrid, Mr Kellenberger expressed gratitude for Belgian Red Cross support for the ICRC in terms of human resources and funding, and for the active role the Society has played in issues concerning the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a whole.