|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good morning, everyone.
**Visiting Political Cartoonists from Middle East
We do expect that at some point — I know they’re not in this room right now – but we expect to have a number of visiting political cartoonists from the Middle East joining us today for the noon briefing. So, hopefully once they come in we can give them a good welcome on behalf of us all.
**Secretary-General Calls for Greater Cooperation in Maternal Health
The Secretary-General arrived in Washington, D.C. last night and this morning delivered the opening address at the “Women Deliver” 2010 Conference. That Conference brings together 3,500 participants from 140 countries, in what the organizers describe as the largest ever conference on maternal health. “When we work together, we succeed,” he told the Conference. And that speech and a press release on the Conference are available.
The Secretary-General is about to address the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Also today, he spoke at the UN Association for the United States’ National Convention. Also on his programme today is a lunch with the National Association for Evangelicals, and a meeting with US Senator John Kerry.
Later in the afternoon, he flies from Washington to Johannesburg, the first leg of his second visit to Africa in a month.
**UNDP Chief Helen Clark
And, while on the issue of the “Women Deliver” Conference that the Secretary-General spoke at this morning, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Helen Clark, will participate in a live webcast on “Women and Power” today in Washington, D.C., from 1:30 until 3 this afternoon.
Along with actress and humanitarian Ashley Judd, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, and President Obama’s Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, Clark will speak about how highly successful women change-makers have dealt with their power, getting it, keeping it and using it wisely.
**Security Council Extends Mandate of Panel of Experts on North Korea Sanctions
The Security Council this morning voted unanimously on a resolution that extends until 12 June 2011 the mandate of the Panel of Experts dealing with the sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
**1267 Sanctions Committee
Also, the Security Council Sanctions Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1267 (1999) welcomes the recent appointment by the Secretary-General of Judge Kimberly Prost of Canada to serve as Ombudsperson, pursuant to Security Council resolution 1904 (2009). The Ombudsperson is to assist the Committee in its consideration of delisting requests received from individuals and entities subject to the Security Council’s relevant sanctions measures against Al-Qaida and the Taliban, who seek removal from the Committee’s Consolidated List.
The Committee, which consulted closely with the Secretary-General in the appointment of the Ombudsperson, notes that Judge Prost brings to the post an extensive background in the relevant fields of law, human rights and counter-terrorism. Most recently Ms. Prost served as ad litem Judge with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
**Secretary-General Appoints Norway’s Prime Minister Stoltenberg Co-Chair of Climate Change Finance Advisory Group
Also over the weekend, we issued a statement concerning the appointment of the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, who has accepted his invitation to become the Co-Chair of the High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing as of immediate effect.
Prime Minister Stoltenberg will now work with the other Co-Chair, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to complete the work of the Advisory Group.
The Secretary-General would also like to express his thanks to His Excellency Mr. Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland who served as Co-Chair of the Advisory Group until last month.
The Secretary-General is also pleased to have received a communication from His Excellency Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, in which he expressed the continued support of the UK for the work of the Advisory Group. In that communication he nominated the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Mr. Chris Huhne as a member of the Advisory Group from the UK. The Secretary-General welcomes Mr. Huhne as a new member.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has wrapped up a week in Uganda speaking with victims and advocating on their behalf to Government officials, the military and the media, in Kampala and Gulu, northern Uganda.
Among other things, Coomaraswamy met with Major General Aronda Nyakairima — head of Uganda’s Army — to discuss the standard operating procedures for the release and repatriation of children associated with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) throughout the region. And we have a press release with more details.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has also been in Uganda, where she said that the situation in Karamoja is extremely difficult. Raids by armed cattle-rustling gangs, including cross-border raids to and from Kenya and South Sudan, have led to an unacceptable level of insecurity, she said.
Pillay said that the Government’s aim to disarm the trouble-makers and stop the wholesale theft of cattle is both responsible and laudable, but added that the overall approach both to development and to disarmament has been flawed and to some extent counter-productive. And there is more on the High Commissioner’s website.
**UN Nuclear Chief Tells Board Iran Has Not Provided Necessary Cooperation
Yukiya Amano, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), addressed the Agency’s Board of Governors in Vienna today.
He said that, while the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.
He added that Iran is a special case because, among other things, of the existence of issues related to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme. Amano requested Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations, including its Additional Protocol.
He also said that the recent increase in tension on the Korean Peninsula reminds us that the security situation in this region remains extremely sensitive and underscores the need to address the nuclear issue as early as possible. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully implement all relevant nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
**Press Conference Tomorrow
And for press conference tomorrow, at 11 a.m. tomorrow, the Department of Public Information will hold a press conference about World Oceans Day, which since last year is officially celebrated on 8 June.
And then at 12:30 p.m., the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Ambassador Zahir Tanin will hold a press conference about Security Council reform.
And that’s it for me. Yes, Khaled.
**Questions and Answers
Question: [inaudible] investigation on Gaza there were no developments from the statements we received on the weekend. I mean there were a lot of press reports about Ban Ki-moon asking for a particular panel headed by the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and I mean, other members. Can you give us some more details, please?
Associate Spokesperson: Yes. We certainly are aware of the various press reports. At the same time, one thing I would like to stress is that there have been no names formally conveyed to any of the parties. What the Secretary-General did do, as we pointed out in a statement issued over the weekend, was that the Secretary-General held conversations on Saturday by telephone with the Prime Ministers both of Turkey and of Israel. Those telephone conversations, we made clear yesterday, were to ensure that any investigation has the full cooperation of the countries most closely concerned. The Secretary-General is also developing possible terms of reference and logistical arrangements for such an effort. He also continues to work to ease the situation in Gaza, which is a longstanding priority of the Secretary-General and of the United Nations. And I would like to add that the Quartet envoys did have a teleconference today, in which they discussed how to preserve and strengthen proximity talks. And they also discussed the urgent need for a fundamentally different strategy in Gaza. They agreed to continue their intensive consultations in order to make recommendations to their principals as soon as possible. And by the way, among the Secretary-General’s other discussions yesterday, he did speak by telephone with the Quartet representative Tony Blair, as well as with a range of other officials, including Ambassador Susan Rice and Robert Serry.
Correspondent: The former Prime Minister of New Zealand is now suggested to head the panel as the Israeli press suggested – they quoted Mr. Ban Ki-moon as saying that.
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have any names to confirm to you at this time. As I said at the start, there were no names formally conveyed to the parties.
Question: So, this report is wrong?
Associate Spokesperson: No, it’s just that there were no names formally conveyed. There certainly have been suggestions; we have been looking at a range of terms of reference and a range of names. But there is nothing that was said right now that’s been formally conveyed to other parties. Yes?
Question: [inaudible] the United States, Israel and Turkey [inaudible].
Associate Spokesperson: There is a considerable amount of discussion going on about the format of a potential inquiry. I don’t have anything solid to announce at this stage about any of that. Yes, Matthew. Okay, sure.
Question: Can you just give us a little bit of an idea of the thinking of the SG - how does this panel would work? I mean, because we need to clarify the picture, Farhan. We can’t get all our information from press reports. I mean, not from the UN [inaudible].
Associate Spokesperson: No, no, certainly, I sympathize with that. At the same time, I assume you sympathize with the fact that what we’re engaged in, and what the Secretary-General and his senior advisers are engaged in, is the difficult task of bringing together views that as of a week ago were very strongly divergent, and we’re trying to do what we can to bridge the differences, to talk to the Israelis, to the Turkish authorities, to the permanent and other members of the Security Council and to a range of other concerned parties, to try and see that we can get an investigation that will be credible, will be impartial and will fulfil the request that was made in the presidential statement issued, adopted last week, by the Security Council. Yes.
Question: Just as a follow up Farhan, when you say that you are talking with permanent Member States and also non-permanent Member States; which non-permanent Member State did you…?
Associate Spokesperson: I won’t specify, but certainly we’ve been in touch with a range of [Member] States on the Security Council, and we will continue those discussions.
Question: And how are you in touch with [those with whom] you are talking? Do they call you? Do you call them? What is your general opinion on how they look at the situation [inaudible]?
Associate Spokesperson: Some of this is by phone. In some cases, as you know, and towards the end of last week the Secretary-General had a range of appointments which we flagged for you; his various appointments with different ambassadors from the various different groupings. And in other cases there are other officials who are here at Headquarters, including Mr. Pascoe; the head of Political Affairs, who are involved in further discussions. And that of course is continuing along.
Question: When shall we expect an announcement? Before the World Cup opens? I mean, after the World Cup opens?
Associate Spokesperson: We’re not trying to time this in accordance with the World Cup, if that’s what you’re asking.
Question: Because the SG is heading to South Africa, so I was just wondering, you know, when is he going to make an announcement?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General is leaving for South Africa this afternoon. I doubt it’s going to be as quick as that. But certainly, we are doing this as quickly as is achievable. Certainly the Secretary-General told you last week that this could take some time, simply because of the nature of the task of bringing together so many differing positions. But we’re committed to this, and we’re proceeding along with it. Yes, Richard.
Question: Briefly on this topic; maybe you mentioned it — are there any plans to meet Israel’s Foreign Minister who may be coming into town? Are any UN officials meeting with him? And I have a brief follow up.
Associate Spokesperson: There is nothing scheduled on that so far.
Question: Okay. What about ships that are now planning more flotillas, more ships? What is UNIFIL’s role in regarding enforcing resolutions banning weapons that might be coming from Lebanon or being shipped out of Lebanon or Tyre, anywhere?
Associate Spokesperson: UNIFIL continues with all of its mandated tasks. Certainly in the case of the Marmara incident last week, UNIFIL did play a role in trying to obtain the peaceful repatriation of the Lebanese citizens who were aboard that boat, and they did help facilitate that. But, certainly they are going about all of their appointed tasks.
Question: Is it their mission to stop a ship if it includes possible contraband or anything? Do they look at anything that is now going to be, publicly stated, leave Lebanon to head toward waters off Israel or the wider Gaza?
Associate Spokesperson: UNFIL has off the coast a multinational force that is working to prevent armed shipments and they will continue to go about their stated tasks in the same manner that they have been doing since resolution 1701.
Question: Could they interdict, stop, if they suspect something?
Associate Spokesperson: Certainly, the multinational force has stopped ships in the past. But I wouldn’t want to predict what they would do about any of these sorts of ships. Yes, Bill.
Question: Jut going back to what you said about the conversation among the Quartet. Who was on that call?
Associate Spokesperson: It was a call at the envoy level of the Quartet. So, they were participating. It wasn’t the Secretary-General or other officials.
Question: Okay, who represented the UN?
Associate Spokesperson: It would be our envoy: Mr. Serry.
Question: Who represented the US?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t know; you’d have to ask the US.
Question: Okay. Also, did they agree on a statement or were you just summarizing the conversation?
Associate Spokesperson: I was just summarizing the conversation. There was no communiqué issued.
Question: Right. You said they’re looking for, or examining, a fundamentally different strategy towards…
Associate Spokesperson: The need - the urgent need for a fundamentally different strategy in Gaza.
Question: So they just discussed that; this topic, they didn’t call for a fundamentally different strategy?
Associate Spokesperson: They discussed this topic. There is no agreed communiqué at the end of this, no.
Question: Okay, thank you.
Question: Can you tell us about the UN to, any ideas, UN ideas on how to inspect the ships heading towards Gaza? I mean, other than taking part in the discussions, can you just explain to us what does the UN thinks about the possible strategy to lift the blockade?
Associate Spokesperson: The only thing I can tell you about that is what we have said, that the Secretary-General since last week has been in touch with a range of parties trying to ensure that no further incidents along the lines of what happened on 31 May takes place again in the waters off Gaza and Israel. And certainly, he has also called on all parties to avoid any provocations. Yes.
Question: Just on that - has he also done anything about getting the border crossings open, so that then there wouldn’t be the need for the problem? And I have some other questions.
Associate Spokesperson: Yes. You entered a bit late, but I did say that he continues to work to ease the situation in Gaza, which is a long-standing priority both of the Secretary-General and the United Nations.
Question: Farhan, I have other questions.
Associate Spokesperson: Yes, if we could return to your other questions later, because now I’ve got people who’ve had their hands up before you.
Question: Okay, but also… Okay, sorry.
Associate Spokesperson: Yes, Matthew.
Question: Sure. On another group of experts that Ban Ki-moon said, had announced more than three months ago he would create about war crimes in Sri Lanka, it’s now been, over the weekend on BBC Hard Talk the President’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa said of Fonseka if he testifies – General Fonseka, “if he testifies to an independent tribunal about war crimes, we will hang him if he does that”. And this is on tape; it’s on the BBC’s website. I am wondering, what impact, one, is the Secretary-General aware or this, the President’s brother of Sri Lanka making a death threat against somebody who said he would testify on this? And what impact does it have on his three month delay in naming a group of experts to look into this issue?
Associate Spokesperson: First of all, I dispute the idea that there is any sort of a delay. As we have said repeatedly, we have been proceeding with this work as with this other panel of experts. As you know, sometimes these processes do take time. But there has been no delay. And in fact we’re moving very close to announcing names for a panel. I don’t have that ready for you right now. But I am hopeful that very soon we will be able to make an announcement on the panel. And certainly, we will make that as a formal announcement and you will all know at that time.
Question: I saw the statement over the weekend where it said he’s already discussing the possible terms of reference of the Gaza inquiry, which is all to the good, but how has it taken three months to come up with the terms of reference for the panel on Sri Lanka?
Associate Spokesperson: Every one of these processes, as indeed with every inquiry that the UN has done, and there has been many, many of them in recent years, it takes a number of, it takes a certain amount of time to make sure that you have the right terms of reference, and the right composition. And it takes a number of parties that you have to agree to. That doesn’t mean that there is any delay going on. The work has been consistent and, like I said, we’re moving very close to making an announcement. And we hope, and I hope we’ll be able to make that.
Question: You indicated that he was aware of this comment by Gotabaya Rajapaksa?
Associate Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: And what’s the Secretariat’s response to that; to the, essentially a threat of death for testifying about war crimes?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have any comment from the Secretary-General at this stage; he is travelling. Yes.
Question: I have a question about the Cheonan comments of the Secretary-General on the Cheonan situation, incident. It seemed he made his comment about the results of the investigation on 19 May. There was a press conference on 20 May, where five pages of statements were released. I wondered on what basis the Secretary-General made his comments about supporting that investigation when there is been a lot questions raised about - that whether there is any independence of the other nations involved? Whether there was any credibility to what was, what went on. Did he see an actual report? If so, what was the report?
Associate Spokesperson: The Secretary-General’s remarks were made here at his press conference; at his monthly press conference to you. I don’t have anything further to add. He made very clear that he was talking about a subject on which he’s had previous expertise, and I think I would just refer you back to the quotes of that press conference, which were transcribed for you a few weeks ago.
Question: Sorry sir, but this is an incident and there are real issues about the investigation, and I am wondering if he saw some report; if he’s read some report, on what basis he spoke about this; he’s taking one side on that issue, where there are a lot of questions internally within the national assembly.
Associate Spokesperson: The Secretary-General is not taking one side on this or indeed any issue. Yes.
Question: News reports issued in Turkey referring to the Secretary-General’s talk with the Turkish Prime Minister suggested that there is going to be an independent commission or panel that is going to be established. The reports that we hear from Turkey suggested, but what I heard from UN is that the consultations of the SG are going on. Does it mean that, after the talk of the Secretary-General with the Israeli Prime Minister, that the Israeli side didn’t accept it? This is why this issue is pending?
Associate Spokesperson: No. All of the sides are still talking. The discussions are going on. There is nothing firm to announce just yet, but work is proceeding and we’re in touch with all the parties, including Turkey and Israel. And as we pointed out, the Secretary-General spoke with both of those Prime Ministers on Saturday. Yah, Bill.
Question: What is the nature of the contact that’s gone on since the South Korean report came out between the Secretary-General and any of his senior staff with the Government of North Korea?
Associate Spokesperson: I need to check whether we’ve had any, what kind of contacts we’ve had. Certainly the Secretary-General has been following this and had been kept informed of recent developments on this. But I need to check; to specify. Yeah, Masood.
Question: [inaudible] about these Palestinians being killed by the Israeli authorities. They were saying they were suspecting they may have launched some sort of rocket attack. But, has it been determined that, in fact, that they were going to be attacking Israel and that’s why they killed them?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t want to say anything that prejudges what an inquiry might get to. Certainly, we’ve said, we’ve discussed the need to have an impartial inquiry and now let’s see whether we can constitute a body that will be agreed to by all, and then they can proceed to look into those sorts of questions that you are asking. Yes.
Question: Yes, please, I jut want to follow up on my colleague’s question on Turkey. I mean, the Israeli officials have been quoted publicly that they refuse an international investigation. So, what’s the UN official reaction to that? They said, I mean, like the Israeli Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister, that…
Associate Spokesperson: With all these processes, there is always a certain amount of commentary going on in the media. Certainly, what we know from our own discussions is that all sides continue to talk. So, it is not as if anyone has closed the door on an inquiry. And so, beyond that, I wouldn’t react to any specific comment in the media by any particular side. Yes, Erol.
Question: Farhan, I wonder whether the Secretary-General has any reaction in regard with the proceedings of the trial of the two employees, former or current employees, Cynthia Brzak and Nasr Ishak. They brought their case against the UN, against UN impunity, immunity actually, to the US Supreme Court, so I wonder what would be your reaction?
Associate Spokesperson: As you know, this is a case that’s already where different lower levels of the US court system have already made their decisions, and we commented at that point. We wouldn’t have any comment on the decision to appeal it to the Supreme Court, since that’s a question for an ongoing court procedure. So, if the process is going to continue, we wouldn’t comment until it is complete. But, you are aware of the previous decisions taken at the federal and lower levels of the US court system.
Question: Just as a matter of curiosity, I wonder whether you are prepared, do you have your lawyers ready for that possibility? How do you follow the case, actually? I am asking it also because you had the same, almost the same case with impunity or immunity of the UN in the case of Srebrenica.
Associate Spokesperson: Where, as you know, our immunities were upheld. You’re aware of that. I wouldn’t have anything further to say at this stage, like I said. We’ll keep abreast of the situation, but at this stage there is no further action that needs to be taken by the UN. I’ll let you know when that happens. Yes, in the back.
Question: Speaking of the World Cup, given North Korea’s abysmal human rights record and the recent killing of 36 South Korean sailors, does the Secretary-General feel that FIFA should expel North Korean from the World Cup?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have any comment on that. Certainly, decisions like tht are for FIFA to take. We wouldn’t have any comment one way or another advising FIFA what to do. Yes.
Question: I wondered what the Secretary-General thought about South Korea refusing North Korea’s request that it be able to come and see and review the evidence that South Korean claims it has. Does the Secretary-General feel that that’s an appropriate decision by South Korea? Does he feel that there should be the right to review evidence if there are accusations made against you?
Associate Spokesperson: Again, this is not something on which the Secretary-General has involved himself - he has not placed himself between North Korea and South Korea on this particular dispute. Yes.
Question: I have another question - 1267.
Associate Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: There is a new person appointed to a position that’s been created. Could we have a press conference and hear more about the position?
Associate Spokesperson: Yeah, one of the problems about arriving late; because this, too, was something we mentioned at the start of the briefing. And if you want any further details, there is a press release available on our counter.
Question: I did hear, I did hear a statement about it. I was here, when you answered that, but I didn’t hear anything about.
Associate Spokesperson: Yeah, and the person, Kimberly Prost, her bio data is available, I think. Yeah.
Question: [inaudible] This is a very big issue; it’s been in courts around the world about the problems of 1267 denying due process. So, I’m asking if there is the possibility of having a press conference with the person who has been appointed so there is some understanding of what the….
Associate Spokesperson: Well, yes. The appointment was only just been announced. But certainly, once Ms. Prost takes up her job we’ll try to enquire with her about that. Yes.
Question: Sure. I want to ask about two SRSGs and then something in-house. On the two SRSGs I wanted to ask, Alan Doss in MONUSCO had written a letter to his staff saying that on 31 May he was stepping down. This was widely reported, letter exists. I’m wondering, is he still in place? And if so, why, and what’s the status of the OIOS report that was forwarded to the Secretary-General about Alan Doss getting a job for his daughter at UNDP?
Associate Spokesperson: Yeah, I don’t have anything further to say about Mr. Doss compared to what my colleagues told you about this over the past couple of weeks.
Question: [inaudible] I mean, do you say, do you acknowledge that the letter was written to staff saying that he was going to retire and leave the post May 31?
Associate Spokesperson: Like I said, I don’t have anything further beyond what Martin and Marie have been saying on this.
Question: On Somalia, with Ould-Abdallah, he has been quoted in the news saying he’s leaving.
Associate Spokesperson: I am aware that you asked about this on Friday, and we don’t have anything from Mr. Ould-Abdallah, and there is nothing for us to announce on this.
Question: And also, there was movie called Three Idiots. I’d asked you about it on 31 May, your office. It was screened in the ECOSOC chamber in May. It’s now emerged that the sponsors say that they charged admission and raised money. It has been confirmed to me by FMS as well. I’m wondering, is it legal to hold such an event in the UN and charge money [for] admission and if it’s not, what’s going to happen? And why didn’t I get an answer to my 28 May question about it?
Associate Spokesperson: I have no information about this particular film showing. If you know who the organizers of it are, that would be really your first port of call.
Question: They’re obviously not in charge or interested in the UN’s rules. I’d assume that the UN would be interested - public [inaudible] money was raised.
Associate Spokesperson: Well, if you could get in touch, though, with the organizers of this event, you could get the details. I don’t have any details about this event.
Question: Should the UN be concerned that they have been quoted publicly saying they raised money on UN grounds? I mean, what happens to questions…
Associate Spokesperson: This is a report that I have no information on. Like I said, please go to the organizers first. They would have the information and then you could come back to us and so, we can see what [inaudible].
Question: [inaudible] enforcing the UN’s rules; I don’t understand that.
Associate Spokesperson: No, Matthew, with any question, there is always an appropriate party that handles the event. Go to that party first; and then you can come back to us…
Associate Spokesperson: …and then you can come back to us once you actually have the precise details about what happened. Since we don’t have; since neither you nor I have the precise details, we can’t have an intelligent conversation about this in the first place.
Question: [inaudible] a quote; would that be enough?
Associate Spokesperson: No, no. Like I said, go to the organizers and then come back to us. I mean, it’s basic journalistic leg-work. I’m sure you can do that.
Question: I’ve read it. 28 May I sent the question, very detailed, to your office. Since then FMS has come up and said it’s absolutely what happened and they’re saying the UN, just nobody in the Department of Management, will enforce the rules. They just want it to go away. But it happened, so…
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t have any information on this, nor did my colleagues share this with me. But, you know, if you can go to the organizers first and get the details, and then come back to me then we can have a conversation on that. Yes.
Question: Thank you, Farhan. I want to talk of probes and investigations today, but on the Gaza flotilla raid; and the negotiations between the SG and Turkey and Israel. Is it fair to say that the UN position is that the UN sees a probe with some international element as being the most legitimate way to resolve this crisis?
Associate Spokesperson: What we have made clear is that we want to find a formula by which you can have a credible, impartial investigation that would be in line with what the Security Council has requested. What we’re now in the process of doing is trying to work with all the various parties to figure out what all of them will be able to agree upon. We don’t want to hold firm to any particular formula, but we’re exploring formulas tht we think will work, and we’ll try to see what kind of acceptance they can obtain.
Question: So, you don’t want an international investigation? I mean, this is a very specific point. I mean, the British, the French, many people say we need an international investigation. The UN doesn’t know what it wants?
Associate Spokesperson: No, no. We know certain things that we think will work; will be credible. But those various formulae still have to be agreed to among parties. So, at this stage, I don’t want to hold us to any particular position in a public venue, because what we really need to do is come out with something that will result at the end in an inquiry.
Question: Other parties involved had declared their positions. I mean, like as I mentioned, the British, the French, many others, the Turks. What is the UN thinking? We need to know what you’re saying beyond consultations and talks and…
Associate Spokesperson: And the whole point of diplomacy, as you know, is that many times parties come at the outset with fixed positions. And what our role is, is to figure out how we can work with them to come to some form of a compromise. And that is what we are in the process of doing. We think it can be done. Yes.
Question: Farhan, obviously as a follow up. If you fail — if the Secretary-General fails to find out that formula — are you going to give up? And is the Secretary-General going to feel it was his personal responsibility; that he was somehow finger-pointed by many of the States looking for him to be leading this process? Is he going to feel as if this were his personal responsibility if this formula fails to be found?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t think that we’re at the stage where we have to consider or anticipate failing. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Yes.
Question: Has there been any consultation about the boats themselves, which I understand are still under the control of the Israelis? And, for example, the questioning of the people who were taken off the boats, because if the UN is pushing for this investigation, I mean, these kinds of things are going to be the evidence; these are going be… So has there been any negotiation on that basis?
Associate Spokesperson: There has been some discussion and there also has been some discussions about the goods that were onboard the boat and seeing what can be done to get the goods released in some way and distributed into Gaza. So, we’re still working on that. There is nothing specific to announce on that so far. Yes.
Question: I jut want to know about this. The investigation is going to be about the first incident. Then there is a second incident. Then, perhaps other boats are heading that way, to Israel. Will there also be; eventually it will be a comprehensive…?
Associate Spokesperson: The terms of reference, as I said, have not been developed so far. So, I wouldn’t say how many incidents this would be about. At this stage, the point is to investigate the incident involving the Mamara. Yes.
Question: I have a question about how to get to the Security Council; because they say that one area is blocked off, some doors are locked, and one of the reasons getting here as you go back and forth you don’t know what’s open and what isn’t.
Associate Spokesperson: It’s tricky, but there is a way that’s facing the river that you could go; which is the longer route. For some reporters, if you’re a resident correspondent, I believe that there is a way through the garage. But you have to make sure that your pass card works. Otherwise, that way will not help you.
Question: How to do that, but…
Associate Spokesperson: I believe you can talk to our friends in Media Accreditation and they can let you know.
Associate Spokesperson: I haven’t tried that one myself. Okay, last one.
Question: Sorry, yeah, back on the flotilla raid and the investigation. What does the SG see as being the value of such an investigation given that the previous reports, for example Goldstone, just end up being a political football?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t agree that it was simply a political football. I think these reports have impact, which is why there is a lot of discussion and a lot of effort by the various nations involved to see what kind of shape they can take. Believe me, if these reports were unimportant, countries would not be interested in them. They’re important, sometimes in ways that people didn’t expect when they started out.
And with that, I bid you a good afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record