DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

16 September 2005

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

16/09/2005
Spokesman's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Pragati Pascale, the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.

**Secretary-General’s Speeches

At this moment, the Secretary-General is at the Ford Foundation, just across the street, where he is speaking at the relaunch of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa.  He is saying that the time is certainly right to relaunch this partnership, and he’s urging the Partnership, the United Nations system and universities to work together to support higher education in Africa.  We have copies of the statement upstairs.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will speak at the opening of the general debate of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly, and he will tell delegates that this week’s Summit has given all of us work to do.  He will talk about what he intends to do, and what Member States need to do, to implement the proposals agreed upon at the Summit.  And we will make that speech available to you, hopefully this evening.

**Treaty Event

The treaty event is continuing during this Summit.  Heads of State and Government, as well as other officials, continue to sign and ratify international treaties.

Among today’s highlights is Liberia, which will be represented by the Chairman of the National Transitional Government.  Charles Gyude Bryant is expected to sign, ratify and accede to 103 treaties.  That’s more than any other State has done at one time.  The Liberian delegation will be in the treaty signing area from 4:30 to 5 p.m., and the Chairman is expected to make a statement at that time, and that is, of course, open to the press.  The signings are all currently taking place near the delegates’ entrance, at the bottom of the escalator, and we’ve got upstairs a full schedule of the treaty signing.

** Iran

As you know, yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to discuss issues of mutual concern, including Iraq and other regional matters, as well as the nuclear issue.

Following that meeting, the Secretary-General used his good offices to invite the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom (known as the EU-3), as well as the European Union’s High Representative for Common Security and Foreign Policy, Javier Solana, to join them.

These were cordial discussions on the need to continue the negotiations on the nuclear issue in search of a mutually agreed solution.  In that context, the President of Iran reaffirmed his intention to put forward new proposals during his speech to the General Assembly, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

** Haiti

Also tomorrow, the Secretary-General will chair a ministerial meeting on Haiti at 3:30.  Members of the Core Group and the Prime Minister of Haiti will participate.

The meeting is aimed to bolster high-level support for Haiti and the United Nations Mission as we approach a decisive phase in the electoral process, and try to forge a broad consensus on the international community’s assistance in the post-electoral period.

The Secretary-General may make a short statement to the press after the meeting.

**Quartet Meeting

Also, on Monday, there will be a meeting of the Middle East Quartet from 9:30 to 11:30, here at United Nations Headquarters.  The meeting will be attended by the Secretary-General, of course, as well as United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is representing the Presidency of the European Union, as well as European Union Commissioner for External Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner.  They will be briefed by the Quartet Special Envoy James Wolfensohn, as well as by United States Security Coordinator General William Ward.

That meeting will be followed by a press conference in Conference Room 4 downstairs, from 11:40 to 11:55.  And that is on Tuesday.  If I said Monday, I made a mistake.  That meeting will take place on Tuesday.

** Sudan

Turning to other developments outside of Headquarters, the United Nations Mission in Sudan today reports that despite the opening of peace talks in Abuja, violence against civilians is continuing in Darfur.

The Mission said that it had received reports that armed tribesmen had killed three people in a village in North Darfur, and that four women had been raped in the South Darfur area.

The United Nations Mission also says that about 20 men ambushed two trucks contracted by the United Nations in southern Darfur and assaulted the driver.

The Abuja peace talks -- the sixth round of the negotiations -- began yesterday under the mediation of the African Union.

** Guinea-Bissau

In Guinea-Bissau, the completion of that country’s electoral process marks the end of the transitional period and the full restoration of constitutional order, the Secretary-General writes in his latest report to the Security Council on the United Nations operations in Guinea-Bissau.

He says that Guinea-Bissau has now entered a delicate post-electoral phase, and cannot meet its multiple challenges without international assistance.

He proposes that the United Nations office retain some elements of its mandate, to support efforts to consolidate constitutional rule, strengthen national institutions and support the reform of the security sector, among other tasks.  The Secretary-General outlines adjustments that he feels will be needed to help the United Nations office accomplish those tasks.

**Ozone Day

In case you didn’t know, today is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

The World Meteorological Organization says the size of the ozone hole this year was expected to be in the same region as in 2000 and 2003 –- when the two largest ozone holes were recorded.

In a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General says that while many countries have made good progress in meeting their obligations to reduce the production of ozone-depleting materials, there still remains work to be done in this area.

And developing countries are only at the halfway point in many of their obligations, and a number of chemicals still need to be phased out in those countries.

**UNHCR

Today the United Nations refugee agency from Geneva issued a statement deploring the deportation from Tajikistan of five members of an Afghan family who had refugee status since 1995.  The agency also said it was deeply concerned by the fact that the Tajik Government has repeatedly denied it access to detained persons.  We have details in a press release from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) upstairs.

** Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) all announced that they will be supporting an Afghan Government campaign this week to deworm 6 million Afghan children across the country.  The programme will treat six-to-twelve-year-olds for intestinal parasites, an affliction that affects a high percentage of Afghan children.  And we have more information on that upstairs.

**Press Conferences

Trying to flag a couple of press conferences.  Later today, 12:45 right here, Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada.  At 2, Firmino Mucavele, the Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, known as NEPAD, and others will brief you on the progress of NEPAD.  At 3:45, there will be a briefing by the Press Secretary of the Foreign Minister of Japan.  In Conference Room 2 at 2:30 p.m., the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, will brief you.  And on Monday here, we will have the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Burundi, Carolyn McAskie, as a guest, and at 1:15, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia, Alan Doss, will also be here to brief you.

That’s it for me.  Before we turn to Pragati, any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  How would you describe the progress in implementing United Nations resolutions 1559 and 1595, especially following the meeting that took place this morning between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and our President, Emile Lahoud, and yesterday’s meeting between Lahoud and Roed-Larsen, and also on the line of Mehlis’s scheduled visit to Syria next week?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General did meet President Lahoud today.  It was a tête-à-tête meeting, so just the two of them met this morning in the Secretary-General’s office.  I do not have at this point a readout of the meeting, but I think this meeting, as well as the meeting Mr. Roed-Larsen had with the President, and the meetings the Prime Minister of Lebanon will be having in the next few days here at United Nations Headquarters should all be seen within the context of the implementation of 1559, and of course the discussions on the implementation.  The pace of that implementation will be the focus of those talks.  And you had asked me something of Mr. Mehlis as well?

Question:  The progress of the investigation.

Spokesman:  The only thing I can say is, as you know, the Secretary-General has decided to grant Mr. Mehlis a 40-day extension, so we now await his final report on 25 October.

Question:  There is a scheduled meeting between Mehlis and Syrian President Bashar Assad next week?

Spokesman:  Mr. Mehlis is in charge of his investigation, and we really don’t feel comfortable talking about the investigation from here.  Yes, right in the back?

Question:  This afternoon the Secretary-General will be meeting the President of Cyprus.  What will they be talking about?  Is there an agenda, and could you tell me who will be participating in the meeting on the part of the United Nations?

Spokesman:  They will be talking about Cyprus, and who will be participating in the meeting, I don’t know.  The Secretary-General will obviously lead the meeting, and we will let you know if anyone else from the United Nations side participates.  Yes, Mr. Akram?

Question:  Concerning the Quartet and the other dignitaries that are going to meet in Room 4, do you have any idea if they are going to discuss the Middle East or the other issues or what?

Spokesman:  It’s the Middle East Quartet.  They’ll be discussing the Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Question:  It will be on Tuesday?

Spokesman:  On Tuesday, that’s correct.  Yes, Sir?

Question:  It’s in regard to the person who’s detained, to which the UNHCR has been refused access.  Can you tell me how I might be able to get more information about that situation?

Spokesman:  Sure, we’ll get you some numbers for UNHCR right after the briefing.  Yes, Jim?

Question:  Just a quick thing on the treaty-signing, about Liberia signing 103 treaties.  I might have gotten this wrong, it’s up on the e-mail, but I thought a correction went out later that the number of treaties Liberia is signing is going down.

Spokesman:  I will, we’ll get you an exact number of how many treaties the chairman will have to sign in a half hour.  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Reports indicate that hundreds of children, babies, are still continuing to die in Niger at this time.  Is the Office of Humanitarian Affairs or any other United Nations agencies contemplating taking any additional measures to relieve this situation?

Spokesman:  Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, along with the WFP, is dealing with the food distribution in Niger, but I will try to get you a bit more detail and get you an update for today’s operations.

Question:  Will the Secretary-General inform the Assembly about what he intends to implement in terms of reforms this afternoon?

Spokesman:  No, that will be tomorrow.

Question:  Will that touch on the internal management?

Spokesman:  Yes, I think he will lay out what he needs to do, and obviously what the Member States themselves need to do to implement the outcome document, which is to be adopted this evening.

Pragati, speaking of outcome documents, all yours.

Spokesperson for General Assembly President

The 2005 World Summit concludes today, with statements by Heads of State and Government and others at both the morning and afternoon sessions.  After all the scheduled speakers have made statements, the four Chairs of the round tables will give summaries of the round-table discussions. Then, it is expected that one of the Co-Chairs will introduce the draft resolution presenting the text of the “2005 World Summit Outcome”.  The President is confident that the resolution will be adopted.  The adoption would be followed by explanations of position, if any, and closing statements by the two Co-Chairs:  the President of Gabon, followed by the Prime Minister of Sweden.

**Time Limit of Speeches and Resolution Adoption

At the close of yesterday’s meetings, the President made a strong request to the Assembly that speakers stick to the five-minute limit today, so that the Summit could conclude on time.  But, if we judge from previous days, it is expected that the adoption of the resolution would be somewhere between 8 and 9 p.m., so it could be a late night.

**Tomorrow’s General Debate

Tomorrow, the annual general debate of the General Assembly will open at 10 a.m. with statements by the Assembly President and the Secretary-General.  Brazil will be the first in the list of speakers, according to long-standing tradition, followed by the United States and others.  The list of speakers is available in the Spokesman’s Office.  We are expecting 54 Heads of State and Government to speak during the general debate, which runs through 28 September.  Any questions?

Spokesman:  Any questions for Pragati?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes, I just wanted to know if you, if anybody has signed up, if any Member States have signed up as of now to make comments after the vote on the outcome document?

GA Spokesperson:  I haven’t heard that they have.

Question:  What kind of resolution will be adopted?  Will it be something procedural or substantive?  Is there a draft available at this stage?

GA Spokesperson:  Yes, the draft resolution contains the whole text of the outcome document, so it’s very substantive, and I believe it is available today in all official languages.

Thank you very much.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.