|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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the briefing.
This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations. The Permanent Representative of Guatemala, H.E. Gert Rosenthal, briefed the Council pursuant to resolution 1572 (2004) concerning Côte d'Ivoire.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) today launched a new initiative to support cities around the world to manage risk following the worst year on record for economic losses from disasters last year of $380 billion.
The Office is launching a new online Local Government Self-Assessment Tool, which has been tested in over 20 cities around the world, as part of its global “Making Cities Resilient” campaign to allow cities to establish baselines, identify planning and investment gaps for risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
The new tool would greatly enrich understanding of the challenges ahead as the world starts to think about a new blueprint for disaster risk reduction once the existing plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action, expires in 2015.
By 2030 undernourishment will be only a minor problem in Europe and Central Asia, but obesity and diet-related illnesses like heart disease could emerge as major challenges for public policy, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today in a new report to be presented at its biannual Regional Conference for Europe and Central Asia.
The report says hunger currently affects less than five percent of the population in most of the region, but as diets shift from cereals towards higher consumption of meat and dairy, the risk factors behind chronic, non-communicable diseases could rise. Besides diet, lifestyle habits, poverty and medical care also influence obesity, disease and death rates, the report adds.
These increased risk levels will place greater pressure on health-care facilities in the poorer countries of Central Asia than in the European Union. The full report is now available online.
Yesterday I was asked about emergency access to the main UN buildings. I can inform you that EMS organisations in New York City are very familiar with the right entrances to the buildings.
However, if by chance an ambulance does shows up at the wrong location or the location needs to be changed for whatever reason, security officers will direct them to the correct location.
This has worked consistently many times in the past.
That’s it for me. Questions, please. Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you. The Secretary-General is going to meet with his Cyprus Advisor, Mr. Downer, tomorrow. Can you give us some information about this meeting? And I just wonder if there is going to be some press availability after the meeting; is the Secretary-General going to speak to the press?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t think the Secretary-General will speak to the press after that meeting. I believe Mr. Downer will be discussing with the Secretary-General the latest results of the conversations taking place between the [leaders of the] Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot [communities], and we will have to see what emanates from that meeting.
Question: Do you now the time of the meeting?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, I don’t have the schedule with me, no, I am sorry. Sir?
Question: Yes, is there any reaction from the Secretary-General of the UN about what is going on with the Egyptian elections where there has been disqualifications of candidates and — top candidates, actually — and one candidate believed was disqualified because his late mother had also United States citizenship and this looks like a kind of rule that they are implementing, like that any candidate can have either parents with double citizenship. I mean is there any reaction to what is going on with the democratic process at the moment in Egypt?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we are following it very closely. As you know, the Secretary-General has been following developments throughout North Africa and the Arab world very closely, and we are watching to see how the elections evolve and what happens with them — how they are held, how they are managed and how they result.
Question: But on the specific of the disqualification of the candidates — three top candidates that this is happening in the last couple of days — is there any official reaction?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, we have no comment on that. Anybody else? Yes?
Question: Can you give us some information about the Secretary-General’s report on the full mission to Syria? I believe it was, he was going to make some concrete proposals about the mission today.
Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General will be submitting his report today, late today, and the Security Council will consider it. I am not going to prejudge or guess what is going to be in the report. We’ll have to see what is in the report once the Security Council has received it.
Question: Will he give it himself, I mean will be submitting himself?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, he will be sending it to the Security Council some time today. He is only arriving back in New York today at 4:30 p.m., so I don’t think it will be personal. I think he will be sending it to them and then the Security Council will be meeting tomorrow morning with the Deputy Joint Special Envoy, Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, to review the contents of that letter, and then the Security Council will have to take its decisions based on what the Secretary-General recommends, or what they decide. Sir?
Question: After the Istanbul talks, the 5+1 announced the negotiations were constructive. After that, these countries are announcing that they are going to increase the pressure and the sanctions. Since Ban Ki-moon has supported the negotiations, what is the result of this double standard?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, there is no double standard; the Secretary-General has been very firm in his convictions and in his statements that the Iranians have to demonstrate to the world that their nuclear programme is a programme for peaceful purposes. They have to comply with the relevant IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] resolutions, with Security Council resolutions, and that the onus is on the Iranian authorities to prove that. And so far the Iranian authorities don’t seem to have proven that.
Question: Since were are at the beginning of the negotiations, what is this? Just after calling it constructive negotiations, now they are announcing more sanctions?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we are not at the beginning of negotiations; this situation has been going on for a long time, and for a long time the Secretary-General has been calling on the Iranian Government to prove to the international community that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only. To date, it hasn’t done so. That is what has to be done; they have to comply with the relevant resolutions of the IAEA and the Security Council.
Question: It’s supposed to be, it needs time to prove that it is not a, we are just at the beginning…
Deputy Spokesperson: No, the thing is… No, no, the process did not begin at this Istanbul conference; the process has been under way for quite a few years!
Question: This Istanbul [inaudible]…
Deputy Spokesperson: …and the Secretary-General has been insisting for quite a few years that the Iranians have to prove, and to date over the years the Iranians have not yet proven that their programme is for peaceful purposes.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later said that the Secretary-General welcomed the initial round of talks held in Istanbul between the E3+3 and the Islamic Republic of Iran and hoped that the parties build upon this constructive first step at their next meeting in Baghdad. He said that it is important to agree on concrete and reciprocal steps towards a comprehensive negotiated solution that restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.]
Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Have a good afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record