Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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 Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon.


** Egypt


I will start off with a statement on Egypt.


The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by recent court decisions in Egypt, particularly the confirmation of death sentences for 183 people and the sentencing of journalists, including from Al-Jazeera today, to lengthy jail terms.  Proceedings that clearly appear not to meet basic fair trial standards, particularly those resulting in the imposition of the death penalty, are likely to undermine prospects for long-term stability.


Separately, the Secretary-General notes that the constitutionality of the law regulating protest will be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court.  He recalls that both he and the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns that the law could lead to serious breaches of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and needed to be brought in conformity with Egypt’s international human rights obligations.


The Secretary-General stresses that participation in peaceful protests or criticism of the Government should not be grounds for detention or prosecution.  He believes Egypt will be strengthened by empowering all its citizens to fully exercise their rights.


And earlier today the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, added she too was shocked and alarmed by the verdicts and heavy jail sentences of between 7 and 10 years handed down to three Al Jazeera journalists on Monday, as well as 11 other defendants who were tried in absentia.  And her full statement is available on the website.


**Security Council


And back here, Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, detailed the unsettling developments in the Middle East in a briefing to the Security Council.  He said that, with Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations suspended since the end of April and despite restraint initially displayed by both sides, the situation on the ground has turned highly volatile with several disturbing developments.  He noted that three Israeli students have been missing since 12 June.  And his full statement is available in my office and is also available on the webcast.


** Syria


Meanwhile, from Syria, the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations welcomes today the removal of the remaining 7.2 per cent of chemical weapons material from Syria today.  With this last movement, the total declared chemical weapons materials destroyed or removed from Syria has reached 100 per cent.  The most operationally challenging task within the effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons programme has come to an end.


A new chapter in this elimination process now begins.  The Joint Mission thanks the Italian authorities for providing a port for transloading part of the cargo, after which the rest of the materials will be transported onward to the various destruction facilities.  And the OPCW-UN joint mission statement is available online. 


**Yarmouk


Also relating to Syria, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees [in the Near East] (UNRWA) has received credible information about an agreement signed between Syrian authorities and armed opposition groups inside Yarmouk.  The Agency would welcome any durable and binding agreement that achieves a cessation of hostilities, full humanitarian access and an end to the suffering of civilian in Yarmouk and all of Syria.


In particular, UNRWA is urgently seeking the immediate resumption and expansion of its humanitarian activities inside Yarmouk to enable it to offer a full range of humanitarian supplies, services and programmes to the civilians of the camp.  UNRWA stands ready to implement a rapid humanitarian response, so that the immediate and longer term needs of Yarmouk’s civilian population can be met.  UNRWA will continue to advocate for continuous, substantial and safe humanitarian access to Yarmouk, and to ensure the protection of Palestinian and Syrian civilians.


** Iraq


From Iraq, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have strongly condemned attacks on health facilities in Iraq, and have expressed serious concerns about the implications on medical personnel, patients and health infrastructure.


Two hospitals in and around Mosul have been damaged due to heavy shelling in recent days.  Most recently a [non-governmental]-run clinic in Tikrit has been damaged, affecting medical access for some 40,000 people.  UN agencies continue to work with authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan region to increase their efforts to help more displaced families fleeing violence.  More camps are being planned in the region’s Sulaymaniya Governorate to accommodate the increasing number of displaced people from Mosul.


Also on Iraq, we are working to set up a video conference for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq, Mr. Mladenov, with you, hopefully on Wednesday morning, but we are trying to work out the technical details, but that’s what we’re aiming for.


**Robert Serry


Also, over the weekend, I was asked by a number of you about issues raised about the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry


I just wanted to state and underscore that the Secretary-General fully supports Mr. Serry, who carries out his responsibilities in the pursuit of UN peace efforts with impartiality and full transparency, and as mandated by UN intergovernmental bodies.  The UN's position and assistance efforts regarding the situation in Gaza have always been closely discussed with relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities.


The Secretary-General spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the twenty-first and discussed the current situation on the ground.  The Secretary-General reaffirms the importance of the role of the Office of the UN Special Coordinator in supporting the efforts to achieve long-lasting peace in the Middle East.  And we put out a full readout of that phone call over the weekend.


** Afghanistan


Turning to Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) acknowledges today the resignation of the country’s chief electoral officer, the Head of the Secretariat of the Independent Election Commission, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhel.


UNAMA recognizes the resignation as a step that helps protect Afghanistan’s historic political transition.  The decision contributes to an orderly and timely electoral process under the country’s legal and institutional framework.  The Mission also recognizes with appreciation that the decision puts national interests ahead of personal interests and seeks to remove any cause of distrust in the electoral process.


The Mission further continues to call on the presidential candidates to fully re-enter the electoral process, cooperate with the electoral institutions and respect their decisions.  It has also strongly urged the candidates to take all steps necessary to prevent their supporters from making any irresponsible statements or actions that could lead to civil disorder and instability.  We have more upstairs… excuse me, in my office from the Mission.


** Pakistan


And from Pakistan, our colleagues in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have been informed that the Pakistani Government estimates that more than 450,000 people have been displaced in North Waziristan.  Seventy-three per cent are women and children.  People are continuing to leave the area.  Most of the displaced are staying with relatives or in rented accommodation: as of Sunday, only 18 families have moved into Bakakhel Camp that has a capacity for 200,000 people.


Humanitarian organizations are supporting the Government response, with health activities including vaccinations, food distributions that started on 22 June, as well as water and sanitation activities.  UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) estimates that more than 46,000 people have crossed into Afghanistan in order to seek safety.


** Darfur


And from Darfur, the joint UN mission in Darfur, UNAMID, received reports of fighting between the Salamat and Misseriya groups on 19, 20 and 21 June in Kabar, Salayle and Um Dukhun, south of Central Darfur.  Subsequently, the mission dispatched a two-day patrol to the locations to verify these reports.  It learned from local sources that the clashes broke out following an alleged theft of livestock.  Reports of casualties on both sides cannot be verified at this point.  UNAMID is supporting peace and reconciliation efforts to calm the situation between the two groups and find a durable solution.


**South Sudan


And from South Sudan, we are told that aid agencies in the country continue to scale up water, sanitation, health and nutrition services in the site for displaced people in Bentiu, to tackle the high rate of child mortality.  Some 37 per cent of children at the site are acutely malnourished.  Food and nutrition agencies are stepping up screening and treatment to catch cases of malnutrition as early as possible, including at the gate for new arrivals.  Many of the people arriving in Bentiu are reportedly driven by food insecurity in their home areas, which are close to the frontlines of the conflict.


** Ukraine


And over the weekend, the Secretary-General spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.  The Secretary-General praised President Poroshenko's peace plan.  And he expressed hope that the President's plan would gain momentum and reduce violence and tensions in eastern Ukraine.  He also reiterated the UN’s commitment to help resolve the crisis in eastern Ukraine.  The Secretary-General also discussed the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and reiterated the UN's commitment to working with the authorities to assist with internally displaced persons and other humanitarian issues.


**Secretary-General’s Travels


As you would recall, the Secretary-General left New York today and is now on his way to Namibia.  He is expected to arrive in Windhoek tomorrow.  And while in Namibia, the Secretary-General will meet with President [Hifikepunye] Pohamba and other Government officials, and will participate in the commissioning of the UN House. 


**Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous’ Travels


Also on travels, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is currently on a five-day trip to the Middle East, where he is visiting the UN's three peacekeeping missions in the region.


**Forests


And almost lastly, the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, released today its latest State of the World’s Forest report saying that countries should put more policy emphasis on maintaining and enhancing the vital contribution of forests to food, health and energy.  And if you are interested, there is more information on the website.


**Press Conferences


And today, I will be joined after you’re done with me by Ambassador Antonio Patriota of Brazil, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding [Support], Judy Cheng Hopkins.  And they will brief on the First Annual Session of the Peacebuilding [Commission] session.


And tomorrow, press conference here at 12:30 p.m. on the conference on the sustainable management of fisheries.  Briefers include Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Regional Director for Asia… Nicholas Rosellini from UNDP; and Andrew Hudson, Head of Water and Oceans Governance at UNDP; as well as Ambassador Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative of Palau; and Ambassador Robert Guba Aisi, Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea.  That’s it.


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Has the Secretary-General received any concrete reaction on his six-point peace plan for Syria?  We haven’t seen any concrete reaction until now.  And Ambassador [Vitaly] Churkin was asked last week after the speech actually, maybe in 40 minutes, about his position on the arms embargo that was proposed by the [Secretary-General], and he raised questions about imposing this arms embargo on the terrorist groups first.  So, do you consider this a reaction from Russia?  Or has the [Secretary-General] discussed this matter with Russia?


Spokesman:  I think, you know, the speech and the six-point plan was meant to restart a conversation and discussions with Member States, between Member States.  The reactions that we’re looking for are, obviously, a reinitiating of the political process, a recommitment to the political process.  As far as the arms embargo is concerned, I think the Secretary-General’s call was fairly clear — is that he was calling for an arms embargo on the conflict as a whole.  James?


Question:  Secretary-General said he’s deeply concerned about the verdicts from Egypt on the Al-Jazeera, our three Al-Jazeera colleagues.  What is he going to do about it?  And is there a possibility he might speak to President [Abdel Fatah al-]Sisi?


Spokesman:  Obviously, as you know, this is an issue the Secretary-General has raised previously in a number of meetings with Egyptian officials and phone calls with Egyptian officials.  And I’m… I know that… I’m convinced it will be raised when he next speaks to officials.  Obviously, this story broke this morning.  He’s currently in the air.  As soon as there is some sort of contact that I can report, I will do so.  Nizar then Matthew. 


Question:  Regarding… sometimes you are using the word “missing” and sometimes you are using the word “abducting”, especially Mr. Jeffrey Feltman today used the word “abduction” of the Israelis.  Which one is the official one?  Because even the statement of the Secretary-General in his speech with Mr. Netanyahu, he spoke… “abducted” Israelis, not “missing” Israelis. 


Spokesman:  You know, I don’t really have anything to add to what’s been said.  Obviously, Mr. Feltman said it publicly, so you should use what he said.  And what the Secretary-General has said is fairly clear, but I’m not going to start to mince words. 


Question:  Have you been able to verify?  I mean or independently whether they have really been abducted? 


Spokesman:  You know, we’ve had conversation with Israeli officials, and I think I would refer to what Mr. Feltman said this morning.


Question:  Why…?


Spokesman:  Yeah… hold up… Nizar, Nizar, Nizar… I will… Nizar, Nizar, Nizar… I promise I will get back to you.  Yes?


Question:  I wanted to ask you about the service of papers on the Secretary-General on Friday on the Haiti cholera suit.  I e-mailed you on Friday, but still have yet to get an answer from you.  Was… what’s your description of the lawyers for the plaintiffs say that the Secretary-General was served, received papers.  Farhan Haq is quoted by some media as saying that he slapped them away or that his guard stepped in the way.  What is the case? And also, what can you say… it’s good that you’re having Mr. [Nickolay] Mladenov, but there’s been a request, for example, of having Mr. [Pedro] Medrano briefing.  What’s… how would you explain what seems to be kind of an evasive approach to the Haiti cholera issue by the Secretary-General?


Spokesman:  You know, I don’t think it’s a… I don’t agree with your description of evasive.  I think the legal position of the United Nations has been clear, has been often stated from this from this podium, by myself and by Martin [Nesirky], so that position is clear and unchanged.  The Secretary-General was not served papers on Friday.  That’s also clear from anybody who was actually there.  But, you know, beyond the legal arguments, the United Nations work in Haiti in providing assistance to the victims of cholera, in taking measures — protective measures on how, for example, how we treat water in peacekeeping missions and continues Mr. Medrano’s works… continues.  Unfortunately that effort is underfunded, but we are continuing to work very closely with the Haitian Government.  As you know, there’s a joint committee that was set up by… between the UN and Haiti to work on that issue.  And that includes both long-term structural issues in Haiti having to do with sanitation as well as more reactive measures such as, you know, the quick reaction teams that can be dispatched when there’s an outbreak of cholera.


Correspondent:  But, in terms of accountability and kind of the rule of law, I guess my question is it sounded from… I mean I’m still waiting for kind of a written answer of what happened to the email that I sent you, but…


Spokesman:  Well, you could accept the verbal answer.


Question:  Okay, but then why was it provided in some cases and not in others?  What I want to know is just the description of a high official trying to avoid the handing of documents.  If you have a legal position that you don’t have to go to court, don’t go to court, but it sounds at least from the oral things I’ve seen that Farhan [Haq] said, it feels very much like evasion.  So, that’s why I’m wondering — how does the UN accept papers?


Spokesman:  You know, I don’t think it’s evasion.  The Secretary-General’s and the Organization’s immunity is clear.  It was granted to the Organization by Member States.  And I think anybody here would agree that, you know, if someone approaches the Secretary-General on the street without any prior warning that, you know, his security detail wouldn’t stop and talk to that person.


Question:  Does [the Office of Legal Affairs] accept papers?  What I’m wondering is, I’ve heard from the plaintiffs in the other Haiti case… that they couldn’t… [the Office of Legal Affairs] would not accept a piece of paper, even to go and make an argument that there [inaudible] that seems to be the problem.


Spokesman:  I think the UN’s position vis-à-vis the justice system here is clear, and that’s where I will stop.  Joe and then Evelyn.


Question:  Yeah, one of my questions is just a follow-up on the reaction to the Secretary-General’s speech on Syria on Friday.  Specifically, was there any communication between the Syrian UN Ambassador and the Secretary-General about the speech?  Particularly, the Secretary-General was very direct in his criticism of the Syrian Government as having at least the initial responsibility for instigating the violence.  And secondly, in your statement about Mr. Serry, I heard you make a general statement in terms of the Secretary-General’s confidence in him and so forth, but I didn’t hear any specific expressed denial of the allegations that Mr. Serry was involved in allegedly providing monies to Hamas.


Spokesman:  You know, I think Mr. Serry clearly denied it in Israel over the weekend.  The Secretary-General fully stands by Mr. Serry.  And I think, you know, Mr. Serry has been extremely transparent in all his contacts with both Palestinian officials and Israeli officials.  Evelyn?  Sorry, go ahead Joe.


Question:  [inaudible]


Spokesman:  What was your first question?  No there’s been no direct contact between the Permanent Representative of Syria and the Secretary-General as far as I know since Friday.  Evelyn and then we’ll go to Nizar.


Question:  Also, on Mr. Serry, the Foreign Minister [Avigdor] Lieberman has threatened to declare him persona non grata.  Are you taking this seriously?  Do you think it will happen?  Has he contacted you? 


Spokesman:  Far from me to predict what any Government will do.  What I’m stating is the Secretary-General’s full backing and full confidence in the way Mr. Serry has been doing his work — in an open and transparent matter.  There’s been no official decision as far I know from the Israeli Government.


Question:  Why did Mr. Serry not come today to brief the Council personally as was planned originally?


Spokesman:  That’s a good… I think he doesn’t… well, you know, I’ll… he doesn’t come for every briefing.  Mr. Feltman does a lot of them.  He was here not that long ago.  I’m not sure that your assertion that he was supposed to be here is correct.  But, you know, the briefing is done on behalf of the United Nations, on behalf of the Secretariat as requested by the Security Council.  Yes?  And then we’ll go to Oleg, sorry.


Question:  Thank you.  Follow-up on James’ question:  despite the serious human rights violations in Egypt, we haven’t seen this issue discussed here in the UN, in Security Council or General Assembly.  Why?  And does the Secretary-General support such a step?


Spokesman:  You know, that’s a question to ask Member States whether or not they bring issues up to the Security Council or General Assembly.  Yes, Oleg?


Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  On the phone call between Ban Ki-moon and [Petro] Poroshenko, the statement issued by your office over the weekend said that Ban Ki-moon praised the initiative, this plan of Poroshenko.  Meanwhile, the statement issued by the office of Poroshenko went even further.  They said that Secretary-General supported the plan, and also that and I quote:  “Particularly, he noted the importance of establishing a 10-kilometre-long buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border.”  I wanted to ask is it true?  Did he actually think that this step is important?  And because some sides, they expressed concerns by this measure — that it could further increase tensions in the region.


Spokesman:  I think, you know, you should take the readout of what the Secretary-General said from the Secretary-General’s Spokesman.  Stefano?


Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Again, a follow-up on the situation in Egypt with the sentence on, well not only on journalists, but this particular thing about freedom of the press.  You say that the… you know, of course he said it’s the news of today, the Secretary-General is in the air, but what could we expect of the United Nations, Secretary-General, General Assembly?  And the question is also the Security Council?  And I come with the question:  does the Secretary-General think that when a country intimidates, well actually in this case, crush the freedom of expression of information, of the press, it is something to do also with the security of the country, of the people or protecting?  Because of course if a population of a country cannot have any more access to information, anything can happen.  So, I would like to ask you:  does the Secretary-General, when he’s back, think to intervene in a situation that’s not of course only in Egypt, but in a situation like Egypt where United Nations stand firm against something like this maybe with a message to the Security Council to maybe debate this issue?


Spokesman:  Well, I think, you know, the… I would refer you to, in general terms, to the Secretary-General’s messages on World Press Freedom Day, which I think have underscored of the importance of a free press.  But, more specifically, I think on Egypt, I would… I’ll reread the last paragraph, which says:  “The Secretary-General stresses that participation in peaceful protests or criticism of the Government should not be grounds for detention or prosecution.  He believes Egypt will only be strengthened by empowering all its citizens to fully exercise their rights.”  Nizar and then we’ll go around.


Question:  The Secretary-General calls for the protection of civilians everywhere.  Why doesn’t he call for the protection of civilians in Palestine where they are really being round up, harassed and abduction of Palestinians happen day and night…?


SpokesmanNizar, you come to this briefing almost daily.  I believe on either Thursday or Friday, we talked specifically about ensuring that security operations being done by Israel in the West Bank protect or done under… stands with international humanitarian law.  I think the Secretary-General has spoken out for the protection of Palestinian civilians and fairly clearly, as has Mr. Feltman in his briefing today.


Correspondent:  Today, what he said… Mr. Feltman says and I can read from his briefing: “Both sides have the responsibility to exercise maximum restraint.”  And Mr. Riyad Mansour specifically asked, the Palestinian Representative, for protection of civilians in Palestine.  He said they are under threat, and the international community has duty to protect these civilians.


Spokesman:  I think we… I think the Secretary-General has spoken out very clearly on this issue.  Oleg then Matthew then Carla.


Question:  One follow-up:  do you mean the statement provided by the office of Poroshenko was not [inaudible]?


Spokesman:  All I’m saying is that you should… I’m not saying that, what I am saying is that the statements of what the Secretary-General says either come from the Secretary-General, from his Spokesman or other senior UN officials. 


Question: [inaudible]


Spokesman:  You know, I’m not going to go further… obviously, you know, in all these discussions, part of it is… part of the information is… the information is shared, but I’m not going to characterize a phone call beyond the readout.  Matt… well go ahead, you haven’t had a question yet. 


Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I know I’m following up on some of the Al-Jazeera points, but the Secretary-General, you made a statement this morning, he’s made his statement in the past, and he’s had meetings in Egypt.  Does he have any intention having any follow-up since these sentences were meted out?


Spokesman:  So, obviously, this will be an issue, this has been an issue the Secretary-General has spoken out about on and raised in contexts on the sentencing of, the mass sentencing of journalists, and it will be something he will continue to raise.  Matthew?


Question:  I wanted to ask — Mr. [Oscar Fernandez-]Taranco was in Sri Lanka.  So one, is he back?  Two, what does he have to say about the ethnic violence that took place?  And also, did he raise issues with press freedom, including blocking of websites, journalists not allowed to visit…


Spokesman:  Let me check…


Question:  Can you give us a briefing here?


Spokesman:  I haven’t had a readout [inaudible] on his visit, I will check.  Go ahead. 


Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Regarding the removal of the chemical agent from Syrian territory, does Secretary-General have any personal reaction or statement beside this joint statement?


Spokesman:  Obviously, I think he is very pleased that we’ve seen the completion of this critical phase.  And I think we can’t underestimate the challenges that the Joint Mission faced to… I’ve never been a choir boy, and I don’t intend to become one now.  [Laughter]  So, if we could please mute the bell ringing.  Obviously, the Secretary-General is very pleased with the completion of the first… of this phase of the Mission.  And as I said, we can’t underestimate the challenges faced by the OPCW and the UN staff in securing the removal of this in what is an active conflict zone.  Carla?


Question:  On Friday, the Russian Ambassador was very critical of the recent human rights report on the situation in Ukraine, and he was alleging there was great bias.  I have a copy of the report, but haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I was present at the Security Council previously when Mr. [Ivan] Šimonović did report on human rights situation, including in Crimea, and it was quite obvious that there was bias and there was a lack of impartiality in the statements that were made by him and the quote from the Human Rights… High Commissioner for Human Rights.  And what is being done to assure that there will be impartiality in these reports?


Spokesman:  Well, you know, my understanding Mr. Šimonović is scheduled to brief the Council tomorrow at some point or during the week on the report.  This Mission is being led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the request of the Secretary-General, and we have full confidence in its work.  Yes?  And then we’ll go to…


Question:  Yes, my question is on ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham) or ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).  Do you, the UN or any of the UN agencies have direct contact with ISIS?  Because they control several crossing points between Syria and Iraq, and Syria and Turkey, so…


Spokesman:  Not that I’m aware of from here.  Evelyn?


Question:  Are you getting any backlash from the election of the Ugandan Foreign Minister?  Is the Secretary-General still hearing criticism?


Spokesman:  You know, I think we’ve seen a lot of things being said publicly, the election went ahead and obviously the Secretary-General will look forward to working with the new President of the General Assembly.  Matthew?  Hold on, Dulcie then we’ll go to you.


Question:  Back to the chemical weapons, so all the chemical weapons material have been removed?  All the chemical weapons?


Spokesman:  Yes.


Question:  Okay, so… but in the OPCW statement, it does say that there are 12 production facilities, presumably these are facilities that have no chemical weapons in them?


Spokesman:  That have been emptied, that’s correct.


Correspondent:  They’re empty.  Okay, thanks.


Spokesman:  Matthew?


Question:  I want to ask about Darfur and then on also something about this morning’s Council session.  The… thanks for the statement on the more recent for fighting, but I wanted to know — Friday, I had asked you about people in Jebel Marra that there’s ordnances dropped by the Government that remain unexploded.  And also about the reported abduction of aid workers in Darfur, and I wondered if you had been able, since then, to get an answer from UNAMID?


Spokesman:  I’m a little embarrassed because I think I did have an answer, but I don’t have it with me.


[The Spokesman later added that UNAMID is aware of several missing persons from non-governmental organizations.  As it has done in past cases, the United Nations is supporting efforts to locate them.]


Question:  Okay, you might be embarrassed about this one, as well.


Spokesman:  I’m easily embarrassed, Matthew. 


Question:  No, no, I’m not trying… let me try to put it as friendly as possible.  In trying to cover Mr. Feltman’s briefing today, and I know, you had said there’s some problems, but first, there was no sound.  Then, when you tried to watch it on the webcast, they were showing, actually, sessions from last week about Mali.  So, I wanted to know what’s happening?  Because I understand it’s difficult, but it does seem like people would want to hear Mr. Feltman, not just in the building, but outside of the building.


Spokesman:  I agree with you.  I will check.  I was not aware of those issues. 


Correspondent:  It was on EZTV. 


Correspondent:  I know, it was on inside the building.


Spokesman:  I never thought someone in this press room would be a proponent of EZTV.  [Laughter]


Correspondent:  Inside the building, there’s no problem, but I think a lot of people follow it by the webcast. 


Spokesman:  No, listen, I don’t… we do take this seriously, and I will look into it.  And I will get our guests, and hopefully you can ask him… Oh, Joe?  Come on, one more.


Question:  Thank you.  Just on the remaining production facilities that was just referenced.  Is the intent to oversee the destruction of those facilities?


Spokesman:  I think I would refer you to the full statement put out by the OPCW, which refers to it.  I think what there will be continued missions and what my understanding is that they are looking at how best to destroy these facilities.  They have different options, and they’re looking at which one will work best, but they are empty of chemical weapons.  See you in a few minutes.


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