I would like to begin by expressing our sincere appreciation to the Government and People of the Republic of the Sudan for the warm reception and generous hospitality that they have extended to us since our arrival in this beautiful city of Khartoum, the meeting point of the white and blue Nile. May I also seize this opportunity to welcome all my colleagues the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, other heads of delegation and indeed all members of the respective delegation as well as observers to the 8 th ordinary session of the Executive Council of the African Union.
2. Permit me also to commend the distinguished Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives to the African Union for the excellent work they have done both in Addis Ababa and since their arrival here in Khartoum to prepare for our work, the outcomes of which are in the documents now before us to facilitate our deliberations.
3. Our agenda for the next two days contain quite a number of items of immediate concern that will require, as usual, frank exchange of views which would lead to decisions of significance to our organisation Indeed, the Council has to prepare the grounds to enable our leaders to take concrete and definite decisions on the critical issues before them. It is my hope therefore that we shall in the customary fashion, carry out our tasks under very cordial atmosphere which has always characterised our deliberations and through which we have always arrived at satisfactory conclusions.
4. In the course of the consideration of the various items before us, there will be areas where we may not necessarily share the same view but in the spirit of solidarity and understanding, I remain optimistic that we will find the middle ground to achieve necessary consensus. May I therefore urge that we approach our work at this session with renewed determination for the promotion of the wider interests of the Union and indeed of Africa.
5. At this juncture, I would like to formally welcome to our mist, the distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania who is joining our regular session for the first time in that capacity. I would therefore like to assure her of our readiness to work together with her both collectively and individually for the attainment of our common objectives.
6. As this will be the last time to preside over the Executive Council as Chairman, May I seize this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all of you for the wonderful cooperation I have received from you both individually and collectively during the past eighteen months. I, personally and indeed my country, would continue to cherish the memory of the lively interactions that we have shared and without which whatever modest achievement we may have recorded would have been impossible. It is my hope therefore that you will all continue to extend the same cooperation to my successor.
7. Let me also use this opportunity to pay tribute to the Chairperson of the Commission, President Alpha Oumar Konare under whose able leadership the Commissioners and indeed the entire staff of the Commission have continued to dedicate themselves to the service of the Union and the continent.
Thank you and may God bless you.