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

4 January 2006

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

04/01/2006
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

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.  I will start off with a statement on Iraq.

**Statement on Iraq

“The Secretary-General is appalled by the suicide bombing that took place today in Iraq during a funeral service in the town of Miqdadiya, which killed over 30 people and wounded many more.  He condemns this horrendous crime committed against innocent civilians in total disrespect for human life and dignity.

“Today’s bombing was the latest in an increasing number of violent incidents following Iraq’s peaceful elections on 15 December 2005.  The Secretary-General calls upon all parties concerned to refrain from any action which could undermine Iraq’s democratic progress and to come together in a spirit of national unity and reconciliation.”

**Security Council

The Security Council, as you know, held consultations this morning on its programme of work for January.

Ambassador Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania, the Council’s President for this month, will be here in about 28 minutes to brief you on the Presidency for this month.

** Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) yesterday received a note verbale from Iran, in which it informed the Agency that it has decided to resume, starting on 9 January 2006, the research and development on its nuclear energy programme that had been suspended.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei -- in a press release which we have upstairs -- noted that the IAEA Board had said it was important for Iran to maintain its suspension of all enrichment-related activities as a key confidence-building measure.

ElBaradei acknowledges the right of all States, including Iran, to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.  However, he continues to call on Iran to take the steps the IAEA requires to resolve outstanding issues regarding the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

In the meantime, Dr. ElBaradei also calls on Iran to take voluntary measures to build confidence, and enable the resumption of dialogue with all concerned parties.

** Cambodia

And from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, in a statement today, expressed deep regret over what she said was a disturbing trend of lawsuits and arrests of human rights workers, trade unionists, journalists and opposition politicians in Cambodia.

She said the arrests threaten to undo the progress made in the last decade to build an open and just society based on the rule of law.

And this statement is available upstairs.

**UNEP

And lastly, the Carpathian Convention, an international treaty to conserve the wildlife, landscapes and cultural heritage of the Carpathian Mountains, entered into force today, when Hungary became the fourth country to ratify the Convention.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), we are told, which played a key role in developing the Convention, says it has recently received requests from mountain regions in the Balkans and Caucasus to support initiatives and cooperation inspired by its work in the Carpathians.

More information is available upstairs for anyone who is interested.

And that’s it for me.  Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Well, I guess I should wish you a happy International Year of the Potato, right?  I was wondering, on the Human Rights Council, does the Secretary-General have any suggestions, opinions, as to how he would like to see the membership work?

Spokesman:  He would like to see them work hard starting on 11 January.

Question:  [Inaudible] membership of the Council?

Spokesman:  He would like to see them work hard when they resume their discussions on 11 January, and we hope they do make steady progress on it.

Obviously, the idea of the Council was first put forward by the Secretary-General in his report, which came out before the Summit.  The world leaders took a decision to create the Council as part of the outcome document.  We now need them to fill in the blanks.

Question:  Yes, follow-up.  What does the Secretary-General think about the P-5 convention as described by John Bolton, which means that the P-5 should be on any standing body in the United Nations as long as they don’t try to seek chairmanships of those bodies?

Spokesman:  I think we will let the membership discuss any and all ideas that may come up in these discussions.

Question:  When Louise Fréchette resigned, I think it was stated that the post would not be filled.  Was that an ironclad guarantee for the 2006 year, or is it possible that Mark Malloch Brown or someone else will get that post?

Spokesman:  I think the exact language is that the Secretary-General would make a decision as needed, following the departure of the Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Fréchette, and I have nothing to add to that.

Question:  So just to follow-up on that.  Who will be doing the functions of the Deputy Secretary-General?

Spokesman:  The wording of the statement was that the Secretary-General would decide as needed once Ms. Fréchette left as to how that office would function.

Question:  Does the Secretary-General have anything to add to Dr. ElBaradei’s statement on Iran’s resumption of nuclear testing?

Spokesman:  No, at this point he would encourage the Iranians to continue to work and to cooperate with the IAEA, and would continue a dialogue with the European Union and Russia on these issues.

Thank you.

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