17 March 2010
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 Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.


Briefing by the Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


Hello.  Good afternoon.


**Guest at the Noon Briefing


We will be having as the guest at today’s briefing Ambassador Hamidon Ali, the Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations and sixty-sixth President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as Mr. Nikhil Seth, the Director of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, and they are here to brief you on the work plan of the Economic and Social Council for 2010.


They’ll speak after this briefing.  And also today, we should have with us shortly Jean Victor Nkolo, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, who will brief immediately after my part of the briefing.  In addition, in the next few minutes, at the Security Council stakeout for those of you who want to run over there, Choi Young-jin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, is going to speak to correspondents at the Security Council stakeout following the end of the Council consultations on Côte d’Ivoire.  And, like I said, that should be in the next few minutes.


**Secretary-General in Moscow


The Secretary-General has arrived in Moscow this afternoon, where he will participate in the meeting of the Middle East Quartet on Friday.


Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, among other senior officials.  He will also speak at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and receive an honorary degree from that university.


**Security Council


Like I mentioned, Choi Young-jin is heading to the stakeout.  Mr. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, told the Security Council this morning that the political impasse in that country has seriously weakened the electoral momentum there.  He said that it is quite regrettable to see the elections once again delayed.


Choi said that the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has set three objectives for the immediate future:  maintaining peace and stability; safeguarding past achievements, including the provisional electoral list; and establishing a definitive electoral list as expeditiously as possible.  And like I said, he should be coming to the stakeout in the next few minutes.


** Western Sahara


The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, is arriving in Rabat today, on the first leg of a visit to the region.  Ross will then go to Tindouf, Nouakchott and Algiers, wrapping up his tour on 25 March.


This is the Personal Envoy’s third visit to the region since his appointment.  As you remember, this trip follows the commitment reiterated by the parties -- during their informal talks in Armonk, New York, on 10-11 February -- to continue their negotiations as soon as possible.


** Afghanistan


In a new report on the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Secretary-General noted the growing consensus that there is a need for a political process to end the conflict in Afghanistan, as well as for the establishment of a programme to reintegrate low- and mid-level insurgents who wish to give up fighting.


These are elements of a resolution to a conflict that needs to end, he writes.  But they must be combined with improved governance and more efficient aid in order to regain the trust of disaffected populations.  Above all, efforts to end the conflict must result in a strengthened political order, underpinned by the constitution.  And the Security Council intends to discuss that report tomorrow.


** Pakistan


The World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it has contracted mills in Pakistan’s Swat Valley to produce and fortify wheat flour, to give a much needed boost to the local economy and provide fast and reliable food access to conflict-affected families.  WFP said that the combination of conflict and high food prices since the humanitarian crisis started has been devastating to many people in the Swat Valley.  Milling flour locally will help to deal with that problem.  And we have a press release from WFP with more details.


**Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation


And last, in his message to the Special Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation, the Secretary-General today urged all members to take more action to reject extremism [and] counter those who polarize and distort, and humiliate and manipulate for electoral aims.  And we have that message in the Spokesperson’s office.


We do expect to have first Jean Victor Nkolo and then the President of ECOSOC, Mr. Hamidon Ali, the Ambassador of Malaysia, as well as Nikhil Seth from the ECOSOC Support and Coordination Office. 


But are there any questions for me first before we turn to our respective guests?  If not then first, Jean Victor.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


Thank you, Farhan.  Good afternoon and welcome to the many guests we have here today.


Earlier today in Manila, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, addressed the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development.  Her Excellency Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines, attended the meeting.


Dr. Treki stated that “promoting dialogue, understanding and coexistence between all races, religions, cultures and civilizations is key to building a multilateral international system based on mutual respect, reinforcing common interests, consolidating the concepts and principles of peaceful coexistence between peoples, achieving peace and removing the roots of conflict and crisis”.


He added that, “One of the most important issues that we must address, whether at the level of the Movement or at the international level at large, is the need to formulate practical and constructive measures aimed at increasing tolerance and understanding, and avoiding branding entire cultures and religions as hostile.”  The President of the General Assembly underlined the fact that “we cannot achieve this goal through dialogue alone.  It is an important first step to generate enough international momentum in order to enable dialogue to prevail over conflict, to enable collective action to prevail over unilateralism.”


President Treki informed participants of his intention to hold a high-level thematic debate, at the General Assembly in New York on 25 May 2010, on Dialogue among Civilizations.  This meeting will focus on how such dialogue can help foster international peace and security and resolve longstanding regional and international conflicts.  It will complement the relevant General Assembly resolutions and the initiatives and activities of other various stakeholders, including the Alliance of Civilizations and the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations.  Dr. Treki’s statement is posted online on the website of the General Assembly.


Yesterday, President Treki met with H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines.  President Arroyo welcomed Dr. Treki’s visit to the Philippines as the first sitting President of the General Assembly to ever visit the country.  During the bilateral meeting with President Arroyo, both parties discussed a wide range of issues on the international agenda, in particular United Nations reform, climate change, international economic and financial crisis, Dialogue among Civilizations as well as disarmament and non-proliferation in light of the chairmanship of the Philippines of the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.


Dr. Treki briefed President Arroyo on the ongoing efforts to strengthen the Organization, including Security Council reform and enhancing coordination and coherence among the various entities of the UN system.


President Treki commended the Philippines for its initiative in holding the SNAMMM [Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial] Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development.  He stressed the need to transform the different initiatives of dialogue into policies and practical measures at the national, regional and international levels.


Dr. Treki also met H.E Alberto G. Romulo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, who welcomed Dr. Treki as a friend of the people of the Philippines.  Both parties discussed important issues on the agenda of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, including the international economic and financial crisis, and stressed the need for the voice of developing countries to be heard in meetings that do not enjoy universal membership.  They also discussed the ongoing efforts to reform the United Nations.  They stressed the need for an early reform of the Council and noted that differences between the positions of various parties remain wide.


Earlier, on Monday 15 March, President Treki visited the Rizal Monument in Manila for a wreath-laying ceremony.  Moreover, Dr. Treki had a bilateral meeting with the Senate Majority Floor Leader, Honourable Juan Miguel Zubiri.


Any questions?  No?  I wish you a good afternoon.  Thank you.


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For information media • not an official record