19 October 2009
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

 


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


Good afternoon all.


**Press Conferences Today


Following the noon briefing today, there will be a press conference by Ibrahim Assane Mayaki from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) on recent efforts to keep Africa’s development programme on course, despite the impact of the current international economic crisis.


And at 1:15 p.m. today, there will be a press conference by James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous people.


**Secretary-General Statement on Iran


We have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Iran.


The Secretary-General strongly condemns yesterday’s terrorist attacks in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran which resulted in the death of a large number of people and many injured.


He extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and wishes those injured a full recovery.


** Guinea


On Guinea, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Haile Menkerios, has been visiting Guinea and the subregion since last Friday, to prepare the ground for a commission of inquiry to investigate the violence that took place in Guinea on 28 September.


The mission left Conakry today for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where Mr. Menkerios is scheduled to meet with President Blaise Compaoré this afternoon, in his capacity as the mediator for Guinea mandated by ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.


Over the weekend, the mission first arrived in Abuja, Nigeria, where Mr. Menkerios met with a range of regional leaders, including the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the African Union Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, and the African Union Chairman, Jean Ping.  The ECOWAS Summit welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to establish the commission of inquiry and the African Union and ECOWAS pledged their full support for the work of the commission.


The mission then travelled to Conakry on Sunday, where they met with Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, the head of the National Council for Democracy and Development.  They also held a meeting with the Prime Minister and his entire Cabinet.  In addition, the mission also consulted representatives of political parties, civil society organizations and trade unions.  There was broad support for an international commission of inquiry among Guinean stakeholders, and Captain Camara invited the commission to begin its work as soon as possible in order to help establish the truth about what took place on 28 September.


** Central African Republic and Chad


The latest report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) is out on the racks today.


In it, the Secretary-General says the mission is making steady but limited progress in the implementation of its mandate, progress which has gradually enabled it to provide area-wide security within its area of operation.  But he adds that sustained engagement by the Government of Chad and its partners is essential, especially for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).


Noting that tensions between Chad and the Sudan continue, the Secretary-General says that the parties, together with regional actors and the international community, must reinvigorate meaningful peace efforts.  He also stresses that the long-term peace and stability of the region depend primarily on resolving the internal conflicts prevailing in both the Sudan and Chad.


The Secretary-General also notes that the proliferation of arms, tribal disputes and border tensions continue to plague eastern Chad and to complicate the security and social environment.  He says it is essential that the Government of Chad redouble its efforts to address the sources of insecurity.


** Darfur


The AU-UN mission in Darfur, UNAMID, has expressed grave concern over a military build-up by the Government of Sudan and by forces of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid Faction, observed by peacekeeping field personnel in the areas of Sortony and Kabkabiya in North Darfur.


UNAMID says that the sizeable and unusual military activities may signal the impending start of a new cycle of armed confrontations in the area.  The mission has issued a solemn call on all parties to the Darfur conflict to refrain from resorting to any new acts of violence.  UNAMID further stresses that the only way for a peaceful resolution of the Darfur conflict is through dialogue and negotiations.


UNAMID also reports an attack over the weekend by unknown gunmen on an escort of one of its police units, that left three mission policemen wounded, two of them critically.


**International Criminal Court


Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court, meeting in The Hague today, confirmed war crimes charges against a Darfur rebel leader, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda.  He is suspected of three war crimes allegedly committed on 29 September 2007 against the African Union peacekeeping mission in the Sudan.


It was the first time that the International Criminal Court judges issued a summons to appear rather than a warrant of arrest.  Judges had considered that Abu Garda must appear before the Court voluntarily and that his arrest was not necessary.


“The presence of Abu Garda at the confirmation of charges hearing shows his willingness to cooperate with the Court”, stated Silvana Arbia, Court Registrar.


** Sudan


On Sudan, the United Nations Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ameerah Haq, yesterday welcomed the release of the two international GOAL aid workers who were kidnapped in Darfur three months ago.  She said the kidnapping of Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki was a reminder of the dangers faced by humanitarians working to help the people of Sudan, often in circumstances of considerable personal risk.  She thanked all those who worked hard to free the captives.


** Uganda


United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, will leave today for a mission to Uganda from 20 to 24 October.


He will attend the African Union Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.  The humanitarian chief’s attendance at the Special Summit signals the humanitarian community’s commitment to support the adoption and rapid implementation of the draft Convention.


As one of the participating senior officials, Mr. Holmes is expected to contribute to the panel discussion on “Natural Disasters, Climate Change and Food Security” led by the President of the Republic of the Congo.


Mr. Holmes will also assess the situation in Uganda, where the humanitarian community has been working with the Government to ensure that some 2 million people displaced by the conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are able to achieve a durable solution to their displacement.


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, approximately 110,000 people displaced by conflict have returned to their areas of origin in the North Kivu province in the last two months, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).


It adds that in the areas of return, assistance is being provided to the entire community, without differentiating between returnees and others, in order to promote the successful reinsertion of these returnees.


The World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing three-month food rations to the internally displaced persons returning to their home areas in North Kivu, while the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has provided non-food items.  The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has assisted the returnees with farm tools and other agriculture inputs.


OCHA also says that an estimated 980,000 people remain displaced and in need of continued humanitarian assistance in North Kivu.


**Deputy Secretary-General


The Deputy Secretary-General is in Kigali today where she opened the Delivering as One conference.  The conference brings together the eight pilot countries as well as a few countries with similar experiences to exchange experiences and lessons learned.


The Deputy Secretary-General will also hold bilateral meetings with senior officials of the Government of Rwanda and an informal exchange with women parliamentarians.


On Thursday, the Deputy Secretary-General will deliver the keynote address at the second Metropolis Women International Network Forum, in Seoul.


During her visit, the Deputy Secretary-General will hold bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister and other senior officials of the Government of the Republic of Korea.  The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on Monday, 26 October.


** Pakistan


On Pakistan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that, since Saturday, the military operations in the tribal areas of South Waziristan, in north-western Pakistan, have intensified and resulted in considerable new displacements of civilians.


The humanitarian community estimates that more than 170,000 people may be displaced as a result of the new military operations, which could bring the total number of displaced persons up to 250,000.


At present, the IDPs are accommodated with host families and no camps have been set up in the two north-western districts of Pakistan.  The UN and its partners, working through local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are currently providing humanitarian assistance to the area of displacement by distributing food and non-food items.  The Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan is now just over 60 per cent funded.


** Lebanon


On Lebanon, according to preliminary information available to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), at least two explosions occurred during the weekend in southern Lebanon.  No injuries have been reported.  Preliminary indications are that these explosions were caused by explosive charges contained in unattended underground sensors which were placed in this area by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), apparently during the 2006 war.


UNIFIL Command has been in contact with both parties, and UNIFIL immediately launched an investigation to ascertain all the facts and circumstances relating to the presence of these devices and to establish how the explosions were triggered.  UNIFIL investigators are working in close coordination and cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces.


** Middle East


Over the weekend, actress and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow wrapped up her six-day mission to the Middle East.  In addition to her trip to Gaza, which we flagged to you last week, she also visited Sderot and Tel Aviv in Israel, and Jenin and Ramallah in the West Bank.


In Sderot, Ms. Farrow met with young students and a group of parents whose children had been killed or injured by rocket fire from Gaza over the past years.  She also met with parents and children living in a nearby kibbutz.  She said the children spoke to her about “the violence, their fear and their dream for peace”.


In and around Ramallah, she met with former child detainees, who had been sentenced to prison after being detained by the Israeli military.


Meanwhile, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that fifty-eight truckloads of goods entered Gaza from Israel yesterday, through the Kerem Shalom crossing.  Half of those truckloads contained fruit, dairy products and frozen meat.  But the Karni conveyor belt crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines were closed.


** Honduras


The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has deployed a mission to Honduras.  The team arrived yesterday and will stay until 7 November.  Its job is to compile information for a special report requested by the Human Rights Council.  That report will focus on human rights violations in Honduras since the coup d’état last June.  It will be submitted to the 13th session of the Human Rights Council, which will be held in March 2010.  We have more on that in my office.


** Philippines


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that, as of 15 October, more than 7.4 million people in the Philippines had been affected by Typhoon Parma and Typhoon Ketsana.


OCHA adds that the bulk of the United Nations disaster assessment and coordination (UNDAC) team left the Philippines on 16 October having completed its assigned mission.


During its 15-day mission, the UNDAC team conducted 39 rapid needs assessments and follow-up/monitoring missions with Government and other partners.  Now as Tropical Cyclone Lupit approaches, another UNDAC team is on stand-by.


**International Labour Organization


Temporary workers have been the first to lose their jobs as a result of the financial and economic crisis, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).


The report stresses the importance of balancing the need for labour flexibility with workers’ needs for employment stability, a safe work environment, decent conditions of work and social security.  And you can have more on that upstairs.


**Press Conference Tomorrow


At 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, there will be a press conference by Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


And this is all I have for you today.  In a few minutes, of course, I’ll give the floor to Jean Victor Nkolo for the President of the General Assembly, and we’ll have our guest from NEPAD.  Yes.


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Regarding this violation, all these explosions that took place in south Lebanon.  How did they establish that they were there since 2006?


Spokesperson:  I don’t know at this point how they figured it out.  But I assume they must have some good reason to say so.  Of course, we can get more information from the ground.


Question:  While they were, I mean dismantling or exploding, triggering the explosions, there were some aircrafts in the sky.  Was that a violation of 1701?


Spokesperson:  Yes.  In fact, during the UNIFIL operation and the Lebanese armed forces operation, and during the investigation on the ground, there were a number of Israeli aircraft that were hovering over the area for a prolonged period of time, in violation of Lebanese air space.  And UNIFIL command protested to the Israeli Defence Forces and called on them to immediately cease this air violation.  Lebanese troops fired at the aircraft with small arms.  And this is what I have on what happened during the investigation.


Question:  Now, viewing this with the recent seizure of these spy networks in Lebanon, it the Secretary-General concerned about the Israeli espionage activity in Lebanon?


Spokesperson:  Well, we’re trying right now to investigate what it is that was found.  We’re still in the process of investigation.  I cannot say any more at this point.  Yes, Evelyn.


Question:  Do you have any reaction to the news out of Afghanistan that there is going to have to be a runoff, you know.  When could the UN and could… and other [inaudible] possibly organize a runoff before the heavy snow comes?  And does this mean that [Peter] Galbraith was correct?


Spokesperson:  The UN was correct.  It’s not just Galbraith.  I would like to remind you that, a few days after the election, Kai Eide in the Security Council denounced the fraud that had occurred.  So actually the institutions that were set up and supported by the UN -- I’m talking about the Afghan electoral institutions -- worked. 


Question:  [Inaudible]… announced that the amount of fraud that there would have to be a runoff?


Spokesperson:  What was your question?  Your question initially was…


Question:  It was how quickly you can organize a new election.


Spokesperson:  Well first I have to say that things are still being discussed.  We’re not yet getting results.  The results that are being reported are just that:  they’re reports.  It is now for the Independent Election Commission to take the orders of the Electoral Complaints Commission and apply them to the preliminary results and draw a new tally and they will then announce the final certified results, and to my knowledge that has not happened yet.  The Secretary-General, by the way, spoke to Mr. [Hamid] Karzai this morning, a little earlier today, and he urged him to respect the constitutional process.  And he was pleased to hear that the President says that he will fully respect the constitutional order.  That was a conversation that took place a little earlier before I came to join you down here.  About preparing for the elections; as you know we have been preparing all along for a possible runoff, and now that the Electoral Complaints Commission has published its orders, now, as I said, it is for the Independent Election Commission to implement them.


Question:  [Inaudible]


Spokesperson:  No one under-estimates the challenges.  There are security challenges; there are weather challenges.  However, the need for a second round cannot be dictated by the difficulties that are faced.  I think what we want essentially is to have a credible government in Afghanistan, and I think that’s the most important thing.  And if a second round is called for, we need to abide by the law.  It is in everyone’s interest. 


Question:  On that, because we got that briefing here by Mr. Jenness and Mr. Mulet about the UN’s understanding of…  President Karzai seems to be saying that the Independent Election Commission doesn’t have to follow what the UN, three of the five members appointed by ECC says; that they can interpret it and that they’re the ultimate arbiters.  Before this actually takes place, I wanted to know, was that the UN’s understanding throughout, that the IEC can invalidate or go its own route or does it just mechanically follow what the Complaints Commission does? 


Spokesperson:  Well, it is theoretically possible.  However, let’s wait until we know what is happening.


Question:  I also want to ask about Sri Lanka.  Just two interrelated questions.  I had asked last week about these… there is a list now of two instances of refugees or asylum seekers.  One was trying to get to Australia; they have been on a hunger strike off Indonesia saying that they want UNHCR to come.  The other one is off Canada.  Is the UN aware of this?  What’s the UN… given Ban Ki-moon’s…


Spokesperson:  I’m sure the UNHCR is aware of them.  I don’t have anything specific.  I can get more information for you on what is happening to them.  But of course, we’re aware.


Question:  And I wanted to know whether the Secretary-General met last week with the Minister of Crisis and Human Rights of Sri Lanka.  I was told that he was in the United States and…


Spokesperson:  Yes, he did, and we had a readout for whoever wanted to find out about it.


Question:  Was it on the schedule?  I mean, I definitely wanted to…


Spokesperson:  Yes, it was on his schedule. 


Question:  What day did they meet and what was the meeting about?


Spokesperson:  This was last week.  I don’t have the details right now.  But of course I can give you the details.  We had a readout on it. 


Question:  Yes, Michèle, thank you.  I was wondering whether the Secretary-General had had a chance to review the resolution by the Human Rights Council in Geneva and whether, what’s his plan in terms of dealing with the report.


Spokesperson:  Well, I understand that the report has been transmitted to the General Assembly.  So we’re waiting for the General Assembly to say what they want, and I think maybe Jean Victor will have something on this.  For the time being, I don’t have anything more.


Question:  But, I mean, it’s the same question I asked you, I mean, the recommendations of Mr. Goldstone, and the resolution says we endorse the recommendations of Goldstone.  And one of the recommendations is the Secretary-General to [inaudible] the Security Council.  So what you’re saying right now is he is not going to do this?  He’s going to wait for the…


Spokesperson:  No, I’m not saying this.  What I’m saying is there is a process.  It’s going in front of the General Assembly.  It doesn’t mean that the Secretary-General is not seeing how he can best implement the recommendations that were addressed directly to him.  We don’t have a definite decision that this will be done at this time or that time.  At this point, as I said, it is with the General Assembly, and the Secretary-General is waiting.  And of course he will consider what the Goldstone report and the General Assembly will tell him.


Question:  Thanks.  You say that, you know, thousands of families have been displaced due to this violence in Pakistan [inaudible].  People have not been provided anything, you know, they’re just spending their time under the sky.  So the UN is in contact with the Pakistan Government, because in your briefing you said that it is impossible for the UN go into that area due to security reasons; it has told Pakistan to accommodate these people.  So what’s going on now?


Spokesperson:  I just told you what I had in terms of what is happening to the refugees and there is not more I can give you.  I don’t have any more.  In terms of the details, it is the primary responsibility of the Pakistani Government.  The UN can help.  The UN can support.  The UN can assist the displaced and the refugees.  This is what we can do.  Yes, Evelyn.


Question:  Sorry, I have to follow up once more.  When the Secretary-General spoke to President Karzai, and Karzai said he would follow the constitutional; respect the constitution, does that mean a runoff or does that mean…?


Spokesperson:  I cannot interpret what Mr. Karzai said.


Question:  Because the board that he appointed that said that these elections were… [inaudible]


Spokesperson:  I cannot interpret, again, what Mr. Karzai said.


Question:  [Inaudible] the Secretary-General didn’t just speak in generalities… [inaudible]


Spokesperson:  I cannot say any more than what I said, Evelyn.  Yes.


Question:  Thank you, Michèle.  You know the United States President announced today a new strategy to [inaudible] towards Sudan.  And he also… [inaudible] fall into chaos if not quick or swift action to be taken by the Government of Khartoum.  My question is, does Mr. Ban Ki-moon have any concern that Sudan can be a failure country and can fall into chaos in the near future if necessary actions not to be taken by the Government there?


Spokesperson:  Of course we’re concerned.  At the moment there is reason for anxiety.  We’re less, as you know, than six months away from elections, and preparations are lagging behind.  Then, in January 2011, there will be a referendum on whether the south of the country will secede.  And we need to have the Sudanese people prepare for the outcome of this vote.  So, in terms of what the United States suggested today, the Secretary-General certainly appreciates the efforts of the United States and other influential partners to help the Sudanese improve their situation.  We will continue to study that policy, which was expressed this morning.  Our reading is that it reiterates a position already held by quite a few members of the international community, and there is a clear expectation that the Government will deliver on its obligations to improve the lives of its citizens.  And that’s what I can say at this point.  Yes, Masood.


Question:  Michèle, there is a report in the Israeli press today that some 12 new settlements have been approved by Benjamin Netanyahu in the West Bank area.  Has the Secretary-General spoken with the Prime Minster of Israel recently?


Spokesperson:  This weekend?  No.  And about what you were asking [earlier], on the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Sri Lankan Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, what we had last week was:  This is a continuation of discussions the Secretary-General held on the margins of the general debate and those pursued by Mr. [B. Lynn] Pascoe during his visit to Sri Lanka -- on the need to accelerate the Government’s efforts in addressing post-conflict political, humanitarian and human rights challenges, in particular the urgent issue of resettlement of IDPs and freedom of movement of IDPs.


So that’s what it was about.  That readout was available to you last week.


Question:  [Inaudible]… I look at the daily schedule everyday and I didn’t see that meeting…


Spokesperson:  Because it was on the twelth.  It was there.


Question:  Michèle, two questions; two different continents.  For a start, on these south Lebanese explosions, has UNIFIL been in touch with the Israelis other than for protest purposes, you know, to ask them about, did you leave this, is this part of your ordnance…?


Spokesperson:  Of course, they have been.  As I said, they have been in touch with all the parties.


Question:  Also, separate from that, in the Uganda situation, as I recall, they allowed President [Joaquim] Chissano’s mandate as Special Representative of the LRA-affected areas to expire; I think it was the end of June.  I have the impression they’re not appointing someone to succeed him.  What is the situation there, how are they trying to pacify that situation and get the parties to come to some kind of agreement?


Spokesperson:  I can get more for you on what is being done on the political front.  I think the reason Mr. Chissano did not continue to work on this is because he felt he had reached an impasse in terms of getting some results.  There are conditions, of course, for any negotiations to take place.  And I understand that those conditions were not met at the time that Mr. Chissano left his post.  We’ll try to see for you whether there is anything more that is being done in terms of political initiative with the LRA.  Yes, Masood.


Question:  Yes, Michèle, you were answering my question when you suddenly got sidetracked by [inaudible]…


Spokesperson:  Yes, I am sorry about this.  I am sorry about this, Masood.  I am all ears listening to you.


Question:  …About this report in the Israeli press.


Spokesperson:  Yes.


Question:  Twelve new settlements have been authorized by Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu in the West Bank.  Has the Secretary-General spoken recently to the Israeli authorities to…?


Spokesperson:  No.


Question:  …Again, because that is all you do; you can do.  I mean, that’s all…


Spokesperson:  In fact I answered you.  I said he had not spoken to Mr. Netanyahu this weekend.  That’s what I said.  And the last time he spoke to Mr. Netanyahu I told you about it, and I gave you a readout of what he had said.  Yes.


Question:  Following up on the question on Pakistan.  You said that the UN appeal was 60 per cent funded, but that was Swat region, you see, for the IDPs from Swat region.  But there are now new outflows from South Waziristan.  Does the UN have enough funds to look after these IDPs from…?


Spokesperson:  We can direct your question. But they said they’re 60 per cent funded; it means it’s not just for one region of Pakistan. They’re 60 per cent funded on the general appeal they had made.


Question:  No, it was focused on [inaudible]…


Spokesperson:  Well, we’ll try to find out exactly what they mean.  But they told me 60 per cent.  Okay, I think it’s about time I give the floor to Jean Victor for the President of the General Assembly, and we’ll get back to our guest from NEPAD in a minute.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


Thank you, Michèle, and good afternoon to all.


On the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission -- also known as the Goldstone Report -- on Friday, 16 October, Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, the President of the General Assembly received an advance unedited copy of the report of the Human Rights Council on its 12th special session which contains Council resolution A/HRC/S12/1. 


The resolution recommends that the General Assembly consider the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission during the main part of its sixty-fourth session, or before the end of December 2009.


The President of the General Assembly will conduct consultations with the concerned parties and the chairs of the regional and other groups in order to set the appropriate date for the Assembly to consider the Fact-Finding Mission’s report.


I would also like to recall that also on 16 October, separate from the working lunch the Assembly President had with the United Nations Secretary-General where they discussed important issues on the agenda of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, Dr. Treki also received Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General.  They mainly discussed the United Nations system-wide coherence.


If you have any questions.  Yes, Khaled.


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Can you just please give us some more details about you know, [inaudible]… that you specified a date to look into the Report of Goldstone?  I mean, are you going to hold the plenary session, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will meet… what exactly will be the expected outcome?


Spokesperson:  Well, the President of the General Assembly will be consulting with all interested parties.  And the bottom line is that the outcome really depends on the debate; on the Member States.  The President is consulting the scheduling of these proceedings and this will have to happen before the end of this part of the Assembly’s main session, before the end of December 2009.  So we have to wait a bit until these consultations are over so that a date is fixed.


Question:  Can I just follow up.  Is there any worry or concern that if the GA takes up the subject this will relieve the Security Council from its responsibilities and avoid the step of referring the alleged crimes committed by Israel to the International Criminal Court?


Spokesperson:  I think that is more or less a hypothetical question.  I cannot comment on what’s happening in the Security Council; I also cannot preempt events and link these two proceedings.  What I can tell you is that the Assembly President will be consulting with concerned parties and that the scheduling of this will have to take place before the end of December.  He has now received an unedited advanced copy and consultations will be ongoing, and we’ll tell you very soon the next steps.  Yes.


Question:  Do you have any thoughts about the, or comments on the likelihood of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) getting observer status for [inaudible]…?


Spokesperson:  Well, what I would like to say on that is that the IOC will have observer status in the General Assembly once the Assembly adopts the recommendation of the Sixth Committee (Legal) in its report this afternoon.  I would, however, like to advise that we be a bit cautious and we don’t jump the gun here since the General Assembly will have to adopt the recommendation first to make it official.  I think you can consult some of the documents that are mentioned in the Journal in this regard.  So, we have to wait a bit.


Question:  Did the President of the General Assembly like that?  Does he have any opinions?


Spokesperson:  Well, you have to wait for this afternoon when all the discussions are through and then you will see what comes out of these proceedings.  Yes, Matthew.


Question:  In the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on Friday there was the representative of Pakistan speaking about General Assembly affairs and conference management, saying that one minute of interpretation had cost $65.00.  I wanted to know, one, I’m not clear, I mean I asked [inaudible]… as well as whether that is the cost just in the Fifth Committee or in the General Assembly.  I wanted to know, I guess, from you in terms of the General Assembly, how much does a minute or an hour or however you choose to define it, how much does it cost?


Spokesperson:  I do not, Matthew, have that power of calculation, but I will go and check and I will certainly bring an answer to you.  That’s a good question.  I’ll check that, thank you.


Well, if there are no other questions, thank you very much.


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