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

5 April 2006

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

5 April 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.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

The Secretary-General’s travels to Spain and the Netherlands are beginning tomorrow when he arrives in Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.  He is also to meet with King Juan Carlos later in the day.

He will go on to chair the twice-yearly meeting of the Chief Executives Board of the United Nations, which brings together the heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes.

Early next week, before heading to The Hague, the Secretary-General will also travel to Sevilla, where the Nodo Foundation plans to present him with an award.  The Secretary-General intends to use the Sevilla Nodo Award money to contribute to a joint project led by the UN Population Fund in Kisangani, which provides medical, psychological and legal assistance to women and children who have suffered from sexual violence.  And the Secretary-General and his wife Nane had visited that project when they were in Kisangani last month.

**System-Wide Coherence

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the first meeting of the high-level panel that he formed to explore how the UN system could work more coherently and effectively in dealing with development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.  The Secretary-General told the Panel on System-Wide Coherence that it can help make a decisive breakthrough in realigning and revitalizing the United Nations in those crucial areas, so that the 2005 World Summit’s political goals are translated into real action on the ground.

The three co-chairs of the Panel will talk to you in this room tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.  And they are, as you may know, Prime Ministers Luisa Dias Diogo of Mozambique, Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of Pakistan.  Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown will also be present at the press briefing tomorrow.

** Sudan

Turning to Sudan, the UN Mission in Sudan reports that a mini-summit is scheduled to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, this coming Saturday to discuss ways to speed up the process of reaching a peaceful solution in the Darfur conflict.  It said participating countries will include the Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Sudan, as well as the Chairman of the African Union Commission.  The Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative in Sudan, Taye Zerihoun, is also scheduled to participate in that meeting.

**ICTY

And from The Hague, Judge Fausto Pocar, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, today welcomed the final results of the Dutch authorities’ independent inquest into the death of Slobodan Milosevic, which confirmed that he died of natural causes and ruled out any suggestion of criminal conduct.

The Tribunal has been provided with copies of the independent autopsy and toxicology report, as well as the final inquest findings of the Dutch authorities, that all confirm that Mr. Milosevic died of natural causes.  An internal inquiry, ordered on 11 March by Judge Pocar, is continuing to focus its attention on issues relating to the medical treatment provided to Mr. Milosevic while he was in the Tribunal's detention facilities.  The internal inquiry expects to conclude its investigation on these issues shortly, and we will let you know when that happens.

**Guest at Noon Tomorrow

And tomorrow, my guest will be Mr. Ould Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, and he will discuss with you issues in the subregion.

That is it for me.  Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Has the Secretary-General been able to speak, as he was seeking to do, with Sudanese President El-Bashir and, if so, did he get assurances that Mr. Egeland would be able to visit, as planned, Darfur and Khartoum?

Spokesman:  No, he has not yet been able to reach the President.

Question:  His call wasn’t returned, or ...?

Spokesman:  The contact has not yet been made.

Question:  Does the Secretary-General have any response to the letter that he received from the Palestinian Foreign Minister?  There seems to be some confusion about the letter.

Spokesman:  No, as I said yesterday, we did receive a letter from the new Palestinian Foreign Minister.  The letter is being studied, and we don’t have any further comment at this stage.

Question:  Follow-up on that:  the Foreign Minister said today in an interview that the two-State solution was a mistake.  Does that figure in your deliberations on how to respond to this letter?

Spokesman:  So far, we’ve seen those press reports this morning.  For now, the letter that we have is the one we received yesterday, and that’s all we have.  And we’re studying that letter, but we have not received any other communication from them.

Question:  So you consider the letter on its own, without references to other ...?

Spokesman:  As I said, right now, we’ve received one letter from the Foreign Ministry via the Palestinian Observer Mission here, and that’s the one we are taking a look at.

Question:  On Sudan, since the Secretary-General is making all these efforts to somehow get through to the Sudanese President, is he using any Islamic envoy or something like that as his representative to somehow overcome this crisis?  I mean, will he appoint anybody as his special envoy?

Spokesman:  I don’t have anything on that at this point.

Question:  Is that being considered at all?

Spokesman:  You know, a whole range of options is being considered.  What we are really trying to do is create the conditions and the atmosphere that will allow this planning mission for the transition from the AU to the UN to proceed with full cooperation of the Sudanese Government.

Question:  Do you expect in the near future any new report from [Serge] Brammertz?  I think the last we left it he was still working on the ...

Spokesman:  The last we left it his mandate is still active and, I think, the timetable for reports is laid out in the resolution.  I will check, you know, we can check, but I don’t think we should expect anything for another couple of weeks.  But he is going about his work.  Just because we don’t hear from him doesn’t mean he is not plugging away at his mandate.

Question:  To follow up on Bill, is the Secretary-General planning to contact the Sudanese President in the immediate future?

Spokesman:  The planned phone call has not yet happened.  I think he still wishes to speak to the President.

Question:  Regarding the High-level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, the Secretary-General announced that a new secretariat has been established to assist this group and a concept paper has been prepared for them.  Are these two available -- the membership of the Secretariat and the paper?

Spokesman:  I will see.  I don’t want to speak off the top of my head, but I think the answer to that question is probably yes on both counts, but we’ll see what we can do for you.

Question:  Is there any update on when Jan Egeland is returning to New York?  I assume he has cut short his trip.

Spokesman:  Well, you know, he had other commitments, both in Europe and other parts of the Middle East.  At this point ... What is the date today?  The fifth.  Probably, in about 10 days or so.  If that schedule changes, if he comes back to New York early, we’ll let you know, but I don’t think he is expected back in New York until 15 to 19 of this month.  And we’ll, of course, ask him to come down to speak to you.

Thank you very much.

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