|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, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
As you can see from the screen over there, we’re waiting for a guest to join us today by video teleconference. So, hopefully fairly shortly, we’ll have with us Nigel Fisher, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ad Interim, and UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ad Interim, for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
And then at 12:30 p.m., Valerie Amos, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, will join us in person to brief on her recent visit to Sudan.
So I’ll actually see whether we can get hold of a couple things before we get Nigel Fisher.
[Briefing by Mr. Fisher issued separately]
First of all, I would like to draw your attention to the statement we issued on Saturday expressing the Secretary-General’s heartfelt best wishes to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi following her long-awaited release from detention. Her dignity and courage in the face of injustice have been an inspiration to many people around the world, including the Secretary-General, who has long advocated her freedom.
Notwithstanding the welcome news of her release, it is deeply regrettable that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was effectively excluded from participating in the recent elections. The Secretary-General expects that no further restrictions will be placed on her, and he urges the Myanmar authorities to release all remaining political prisoners. Democracy and national reconciliation require that all citizens of Myanmar are free to participate as they wish in the political life of their country. The United Nations will continue to uphold the cause of human rights and to support genuine efforts by the Government and people of Myanmar to move their country towards peace, democracy and prosperity.
Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative of the UN-African Union mission in Darfur, has warned that a lasting settlement in Darfur requires a comprehensive, all-inclusive agreement based on the consensus of all Darfuris. Mr. Gambari told a press conference in Khartoum Sunday that he has met with all stakeholders to convince them to join the peace process.
He expressed deep concerned at renewed violence between the Government of Sudan and the armed movements, most notably the Justice and Liberation Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) faction.
And he called upon all parties to refrain from further offensive military action and respect international humanitarian law. This includes the need for UNAMID and the humanitarian community to have unimpeded access to all areas of recent fighting in order to assess the needs of the displaced and war-affected population and provide assistance where required.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General's Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan visited voter-registration centres today in Khartoum on the first day of registration for next year's referendum on Southern Sudan.
President Benjamin Mkapa, the Chairman of the Panel, spoke after visiting sites near the Mayo Mandela camp on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, saying the visits were aimed at getting a sense of how voter registration is progressing on the first day. He said that, so far, the number of people who have registered is extremely small, but he hoped that would change in the days ahead.
And last, the Security Council today is holding an open debate on the work of its three committees dealing with counter-terrorism. The ambassadors of Austria, Mexico and Turkey briefed the Security Council on the work of the respective committees that they chair, and that debate is continuing now.
So I’m prepared to answer a few questions while we wait to see whether Nigel Fisher will join us via VTC and talk about the situation in Haiti. Yes, please.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Farhan, do you have any more information about the tripartite meeting that is going to be held on Thursday between the Cyprus leaders and the Secretary-General, please?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General does expect to meet here at Headquarters twice with the leaders of the Cypriot communities. He expects one meeting in the morning time, before lunch for about an hour, and another meeting of a couple of more hours in the afternoon. We’ll see whether there is anything further after that. But we’ve already described what the purpose of the meeting is. And of course, the Secretary-General expects to see his Special Adviser, Alexander Downer. [He later added that the schedule continues to be revised.]
Question: Sure. There was, over the weekend, there was this incident in which the South Sudanese said that Khartoum or the Sudanese Air Force has bombed Southern Sudanese territory. What has been found about the casualties, injuries and what comments does the UN have on this bombing in South Sudan territory?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: We don’t. We were trying to get some information, but we didn’t have a confirmation of that particular fighting. If we get any further details, including a confirmation, we’d have something.
Question: Can I ask one question?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, one more question, then let’s turn to Mr. Fisher. Yes.
Question: I just wanted to ask it now. Saturday in the General Assembly Hall was given over to the filming of a Transformers III movie. There was a huge crowd there; UN Security, and I am just wondering what you can say about it? Whether, who approved that use, how much it cost the UN to do it, why it was done? I had asked Mr. [Kiyo] Akasaka last week and he seemed to not be aware that it was going to happen. So when was this decided?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, this was something that was approved, and I believe that included filming outside on the streets at one point and then filming inside; it went through the normal approval process. I’ll see whether, I believe it was approved by DPI [Department of Public Information], but let me check with DPI who did that.
Question: What about cost? Did they reimburse the UN for the cost of all the security? And I am just wondering what benefit to the UN it is to have to turn over the GA Hall to this film?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: I am not sure that there were any particular costs associated with that that were borne on our side. Anyway, let us now turn to Nigel Fisher. Thanks very much for joining us. We’re very pleased to have with us today, Nigel Fisher, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ad Interim, and Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ad Interim, in Haiti.
* *** *For information media • not an official record