The Secretary-General held a private meeting today in San José with President Miguel Angel Rodríguez Echevarria, according to a spokesman travelling with Mr. Annan. Foreign Minister Roberto Rojas Lopez met the Secretary-General at the airport when he arrived on Friday. During a press encounter there, the Secretary-General was asked about UN efforts in the Middle East. “We are all working very hard to try and pull the parties from the abyss,” he said. “I have also challenged the leaders to lead their people from desperation and despair.” The Secretary-General also voiced hope that recent international efforts, including those by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, United States Vice President Dick Cheney and US envoy Anthony Zinni, would yield results. During his visit to the University of Peace just outside San José on Saturday, University Rector Martin Lees thanked the Secretary-General for challenging the institution to revitalize itself.