|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
AND THE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
Briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon. Our guest today will be Antonio María Costa, who, as you know, is the Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and he will be here to brief you on the latest report on opium production in Afghanistan. We will also have Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte who will brief you on behalf of the General Assembly President and then, after that, we will go to Mr. Costa.
** Lebanon -- Security Council
The Secretary General this morning briefed the Security Council in its closed consultations on his recent report concerning his travels to the Middle East and other recent developments in the implementation of resolution 1701 concerning Lebanon. That report, which is out as a document, detailed some progress in ending the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, including the expansion of the Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and the lifting of Israel’s blockade on that country. A start has been made, the Secretary-General says in his report, but many other steps are required.
The Secretary-General notes with pleasure that Lebanon’s Government “has decided in clear terms that there can only be one source of law, order and authority”, and adds that he is “greatly encouraged” by statements from relevant parties, including Syria and Iran, during his recent mission. He says that a sustainable long-term solution can only be implemented on the basis of inclusive political processes, domestically in Lebanon as well as in the wider region.
In Lebanon itself, French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie met today with the Force Commander of UNIFIL, Major-General Alain Pellegrini, and other officials at UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura, where she was briefed on the continuing withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon. Following the arrival in recent days of personnel from France, Italy and Spain, UNIFIL now has about 4,800 personnel on the ground.
** Lebanon -– Humanitarian
Also on Lebanon, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the electrical repairs in the country are proceeding more quickly than originally projected.
Meanwhile, the UN Mine Action Service reports that, so far, nearly 17,000 cluster bomblets and more than 600 other items of unexploded ordnance have been cleared and destroyed jointly by the Mine Action Coordination of South Lebanon, which is overseen by the UN Mine Action Service, UNIFIL engineers, and the Lebanese Armed Forces.
The Secretary General’s latest report on Sudan is now out as a document today, and the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, will be briefing the Security Council at 3 p.m. this afternoon. In the report, the Secretary-General says that, one year after the inauguration of the Government of National Unity, the parties have made progress in carrying out their commitments under the comprehensive peace agreement, but on a limited scale. He says that, while the parties are observing their security commitments reasonably well, the implementation of several other major provisions of the agreement have fallen behind schedule and it appears that implementation is done on a selective basis. The Secretary-General also says that efforts to implement the comprehensive peace agreement will prove inadequate until durable peace also comes to Darfur. Pronk will be stopping at the Security Council stakeout to speak to interested reporters this afternoon after his briefing.
The Secretary-General, in a message delivered to the Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier today, drew its attention especially to the violations and abuses to which the people of Darfur are being subjected, and which threaten to get even worse in the near future.
In a direct appeal to the delegates, the Secretary-General said: “Do not disappoint the hopes of humanity.”
**Human Rights Council
Also from the Council, which today began its second session which will run for about three weeks until October 6, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour delivered a statement in which she said, also on Sudan, that the deteriorating situation in Darfur stands out as a tragic reminder of the collective failure to protect civilians, with combatants routinely making a mockery of the principles of international humanitarian law.
She also referred to Iraq, where existing mechanisms for preventing and redressing human right violations were still insufficient due to the abysmal security situation and a lack of adequate resources. In reference to Sri Lanka, she said there was an urgent need for the international community to monitor the unfolding human rights situation, and in Nepal, where despite significant positive development, progress remained fragile.
On the Council itself, Ms. Arbour said it should be equipped to seize itself of perilous and long-neglected situations, and to intervene to defuse them before they escalate into full-scale brutality or irreparable damage.
**Human Rights Appointment
And a last note on the human rights front. The Secretary-General has appointed today Ms. Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. The appointment is at the Assistant Secretary-General Level. Ms. Kang is currently Director-General of International Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, with a portfolio that covers a wide range of UN issues, including human rights. We of course have the biography of the new Deputy High Commissioner available in my office.
Back here at Headquarters, the Secretary General will open a high-level meeting on Iraq at 3 p.m. this afternoon in Conference Room 4, which is designed to review the implementation of Security Council 1546 and to discuss the International Compact with Iraq. The meeting brings together 31 delegations, including 14 foreign ministers, as well as officials from regional organizations and international financial institutions.
Most of the meeting is closed to the press, but the first two speakers -- the Secretary-General and President of Iraq Jalal Talabani -- will give statements that will be broadcast by UNTV, and there will be a photo op at the start of the meeting. We will also have a stakeout set up outside Conference Room 4 and the Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown is expected to stop his way down.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations and all member States of the European Union, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, strongly condemned today’s car-bombing attempt on the life of the Somali President. President Abdullahi Yusuf escaped unharmed, but at least five people are reported to have died and scores were wounded. He also expressed sadness at the loss of life and injuries to innocent bystanders.
**Least Developed Countries
Earlier today, Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown addressed a High-Level Meeting of the Least Developed Countries. In his remarks, he said that, over the past five years, least developed countries have experienced higher economic growth, greater exports and larger investment flows. They have also made some progress towards several human development goals, including reducing maternal and child mortality and increasing universal primary enrolment.
Yet, despite significant progress by some least developed countries, their gains as a group have been insufficient to meet the goals agreed to in 2001 in Brussels. And they have had minimum impact where it is most needed, he said. And we have the full text upstairs.
**Secretary General -- Messages
Also earlier today, the Secretary-General attended the presentation ceremony for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award, here at Headquarters down in Conference Room 4.
Addressing the event, he said that people with disabilities form a group that’s larger than many realize and for many years, their needs and rights tended to be overlooked – but, while that situation has been changing, much more needs to done.
And we also have a message from the Secretary-General to the Seventh Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention, which is being held in Geneva. And that message is available to you upstairs.
Our colleagues at UNICEF inform us that political leaders and health experts are gathering in New York today at a Symposium on Child Survival, hosted by the Government of Norway, the Lancet, which is a medical magazine for those of you that don’t know, and the UN Children’s Fund as part of the Millennium Development Goal project. The symposium calls for stronger health services in countries with high child mortality, better access to medical supplies and low-cost health measures to prevent child deaths. We have more information upstairs.
**Secretary General and General Assembly Tomorrow
And lastly, the high–level segment of the General Assembly opens tomorrow. The Secretary-General will be addressing the General Assembly tomorrow.
His speech presents a review of major challenges the world has faced during his ten years as Secretary-General, and still does now. It will argue that many of these challenges have become more acute, and above all more divisive, to the point where they now “threaten the very notion of an international community, upon which this institution stands”. We hope to have the text on an embargoed basis as early as possible this afternoon.
Just a reminder to all of you who have covered these GA assemblies before, we would advise you to come into the building early if you do want to get in.
**Questions and Answers
Question: I have two questions. The first is on the Secretary General. He will be meeting this afternoon with [Lebanese] Foreign Minister Salloukh. He’s from Hizbollah. Will they discuss the disarmament of Hizbollah?
Spokesman: We will give you a readout of the meeting afterwards, but I can’t, I won’t, try to guess what the details of the discussions will be. It will obviously focus on Lebanon and [resolution] 1701 but we will give you a readout of the meeting afterwards.
Question: Michael Aoun is a Lebanese leader close to Hizbollah. He has proposed to the Secretary-General his good offices on the release of the two soldiers. Do you know anything about this proposal?
Spokesman: I don’t know if we have been officially notified of this but the Secretary-General’s efforts remain on supporting the work of his facilitator in securing the release of the soldiers.
Question: Has he accepted this mediation?
Spokesman: As I’ve said I have nothing further except to say the Secretary-General’s work is focused on the work of his facilitator and I do not know if we have received this offer from General Aoun officially.
Question: President Bush criticized the United Nations role in dealings with the Darfur and the atrocities. I know that President Bush is going to have bilateral meetings with Secretary-General Annan. In what capacity are they going to discuss Darfur? And in what capacity are they going to discuss the nuclear issues. The Iranian nuclear issues?
Spokesman: Once again, I’m not in a position to tell you what is going to be discussed, but, obviously, whenever the Secretary-General and the President meet they usually have wide ranging discussions. No doubt Darfur and the discussions with Iran will be discussed. But again, once the meeting happens we can then give you a readout.
Question: The Secretary-General has said in the past that if any one else tries to mediate on the two soldiers, he will pull his mediator out. But if someone like Aoun suggests did something like that, would that be enough?
Spokesman: I think the whole object of the facilitator and not naming the person is an effort on the Secretary General’s part to let that person work as much under the radar as possible. I think for any chances of his or her mission to succeed, the less we say publicly the better.
Question: President Chirac said this morning there shouldn’t be a condition of freezing before a negotiation starts with Iran. Does the Secretary-General agree with that?
Spokesman: I think the Secretary-General’s position on the Iranian discussions is fairly clear. He spoke about it extensively during his press conference. He encourages both sides to negotiate in a positive atmosphere. But we are not going to get into details of commenting on what one side says or the other.
Question: On Iran, does the Secretary-General agree with the High Commissioner for Human Rights representative in New York, Craig Mokhiber, who refuses to say a word (inaudible) although prompted several times about the Iranian anti-Semitism and also compares that to American-Israeli violations?
Spokesman: The Secretary General’s views on the issue of what has come out of the Iranian Government on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism could not be clearer. I’m not going to comment on what Mr. Mokhiber? May or may not have said or who may have prompted him to discuss these things.
Question: Regarding last Thursday I asked, a question about the visa issue to Iranian diplomats, especially the Interior Minister who didn’t get a visa to join the migration development session they had last Friday. (Inaudible) Again, I got the news today that about 15 people from the news agencies covering the Iranian President have not received visas. I’m just wondering what does the United Nations on this issue. Are they following up on this issue. What are the standards?
Spokesman: The issue of people coming to the UN to attend official meetings, the rights and responsibilities of the host country, are laid out in the host country agreement, which is a public document, which we can give you copies of. I’m not familiar with this particular case you are mentioning. Often, if there is a problem with visas, it is taken up by the Host Country Committee here at Headquarters. But, as I’ve said, I’m not familiar with the exact details.
Question: The Minister sent a letter to Kofi Annan, and what was his response? I haven’t seen anything.
Spokesman: I’ll have to see if there has been a response. We can check right after the briefing.
Question: Just a follow up on that. There was a letter sent from Mr. Zarif, Iranian Ambassador to the UN (inaudible) to Mr.Annanand we haven’t received a reply and I have contacted the State Department, but they said the details could not be disclosed. So, how do we know why or why not the visa wasn’t granted?
Spokesman: That is a bilateral issue between the US and Iran. As I’ve said, the rights and responsibilities of the host country are fairly clear in the host country agreement, but I will try and see if there has been an answer from the Secretary-General to the Foreign Minister’s letter.
Question: What is the protocol of the United Nations, aside from Iran, if a country is not granted a visa? What does the United Nations do?
Spokesman: Look, as I’ve said, the host country is expected to facilitate the entry of all officials coming to attend meetings at the UN. There have been cases where there have been issues with the visas. But, as I’ve said, it is a legal issue and all those steps are fairly clearly laid out in the host country agreement, which we can give you a copy of. And I will check if there is an answer for the letter.
Question: At the end of your… just now… you were talking about this speech by the SG. When and where is this speech going to be issued? And why did you just issue the excerpts now?
Spokesman: This is something we do all the time. We tease a speech before it happens and then we will make the speech available under embargo, as we do with all his statements in my office a bit later on.
Question: On the issue of resolution 1701 and the exchange of prisoners, which I have been asking about the Palestinian prisoners who have been in jails for a long period of time. What is being done about that (inaudible)?
Spokesman: The work of the facilitator is focused on the issues of the Israeli soldiers and the Lebanese prisoners. On the Palestinian front, this is an issue that the Secretary General has expressed his concern to with the Israeli authorities, notably the arrest of Palestinian legislators and he has called for, time and time again, for the release of Corporal Shalit. But, these are discussions that we are not directly involved in.
Question: I’m just saying that in case of Palestine, there are a lot more prisoners in jail than the issue of Corporal Shalit. I emphasize that absolutely everybody should be released.
Spokesman: I think the fact that the Secretary-General or his facilitator is not directly involved in those discussions should not be read as a sign that he cares less about that situation than the one in Lebanon.
Question: In his press conference Wednesday, the Secretary-General said that, without the consent of the Sudanese Government, we are not going to be able to put in the troops. So he’s been away obviously, but what is his position? Are there no circumstances in which he could imagine supporting a resolution for troops in Sudan?
Spokesman: What I know the Secretary-General meant by that answer, is that we would be hard pressed to get countries to volunteer troops under those conditions. As you know, with any peacekeeping operation, once a resolution is passed, we then go knocking on doors trying to get troops. His point was he didn’t think he would ever get troops under those conditions. The Secretary-General continues to work to try to get the Sudanese Government to ultimately accept a transition to the UN force, to allow for the extension of the AU force until December. And, of course, our peacekeeping department is working hand in hand with the AU to see what can be done in the meantime to strengthen it with equipment and whatever else they need. And in fact the Secretary-General had a discussion to that effect with President Bashir when he saw him in Havana.
Question: An issue arose at his press conference about his financial disclosure. I know many people thought he gave an answer that was unclear and then, Friday, Mark Malloch Brown called the New York Times and said he would be filing. I guess my question is, when will he be filing? Will you tell us when he’s filed? Will any portions of it be made public? Why was there the unclarity about the filing? He said he spoke to lawyers that advised him not to file. Where these UN lawyers? And how do you decide to release information that many people had been asking for?
Spokesman: None will be made public. That form will not be made public as any of the financial disclosure forms of any UN staff members are not made public. They are handled by the ethics office. I think Mr. Burnham, on a number of occasions, gave you detailed briefing on how those forms would be handled and you had the ethics office here as well. The legal advice the Secretary-General gets is privileged, as the legal advice anyone is entitled to get. The Secretary-General from the first moment he entered office, has abided by every commitment required of him by the Organization. If you go back to the Volcker report of 2005, as part of the Volcker investigation, he had to release to the investigators his finances. He did so. I would urge you to look at the conclusion of that report, which says his financial records did not raise any suspicion. As you know, the Secretary General is not a staff member of the Organization. He stopped being a staff member when he became Secretary-General. However, to avoid any misinterpretation of his position he’s decided to voluntarily submit his financial disclosure form. And, I will be happy to tell you as soon as that is done.
Question: On the release of information, how was that decided?
Spokesman: That was decided over the course of Friday.
Question: Three quick things. What time, if it’s set yet, for the meeting of Kofi Annan and the President of Iran tomorrow or Wednesday. Just for guidance, even though the whole world is watching, for planning purposes, when is that? Number two is, why are the UN flags not up when the whole world is here with all their cameras? I don’t think it’s related to the Tonga death, because that would be the blue flag. Number three, does the Secretary General have something to hide, since, for more than a year, there was talk of him disclosing the financial form and it appears to outsiders that it takes the prestigious New York Times to ask in the briefing room: “Where is the form?” for finally a decision to be made by the Secretary-General, grudgingly according to the article after the urgings of Mssrs. Burnham and Malloch Brown. So can you answer that?
Spokesman: I’ll take the easier one first. I don’t know when the meeting with the Iranian President is. I can try and find out. Same with the flags. I’d be happy to find out.
[In a later announcement, the Spokesman’s Office said the flags were down because of the death of the King of Tonga.]
The Secretary-General has nothing to hide. He wants to abide by every commitment and every regulation demanded of him by the Organization by the General Assembly. As a non-staff member, he was not required to fill out the financial disclosure form. To avoid any misinterpretation that he did have something to hide he has decided to fill out the form on a voluntary basis.
Question: In reviewing the Secretary-General’s statement tomorrow, I believe you indicated he would say that the challenges have become conflicts and the disagreement has been widening. Does he also propose concrete solutions on how to resolve these issues?
Spokesman: I think you will have to wait for the speech. But it will be a recommitment to the institutions, the international institutions that we have and commitment by the Member States to live up to the promises that they made to the peoples of the world in the outcome document last year in 2005.
Question: There are reports suggesting that, during the days of General Assembly, there will be negotiations between the Iranian chief negotiator on nuclear issues (inaudible) and Javier Solana representing the Europeans. Is the office of the Secretary-General in any way involved in, or have a presence in these negotiations?
Spokesman: No, those are, as you say, between the European Union on behalf of the P-3+3, or the six countries, however you want to refer to them, and the European Union. What the Secretary-General has done from the beginning is encourage both sides to continue in those discussions. But, we are not a party to those talks.
Question: (inaudible) this Iranian nuclear program to be suspended for a few months (inaudible)
Spokesman: This is at the heart of the discussions going on between the European Union and the Iranians and we should leave them to discuss it and find an acceptable solution.
Question: My question is about Havana. Can you give us some more information about the Secretary-General’s speeches, presentations and contacts in Havana?
Spokesman: He attended the meeting. We put out the speech last week. We talked about it a number of times. You can go back to refer to the speech. As he does, in a number of these meetings, he used the opportunity to have a series of bilateral meetings, notably with the President of Sudan, the Prime Minister of India and the President of South Africa, to name just a few, but we will put out the full list of his bilateral contacts.
Question: Can we have something of actual substance, because these are important meetings and whatever happened?
Spokesman: The point is that these are private bilaterals. With the President of Sudan you can imagine they did discuss which was Darfur. With the President of South Africa, they discussed among other issues, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. As I’ve said, we’ll get you more details as we can.
Question: Talking about those bilaterals in Havana, what can you tell us about the Secretary General’s thoughts on his successor if you can? Did he discuss that with [Indian] Prime Minister Manmohan Singh?
Spokesman: I think the Secretary-General is extremely relieved that he does not have to discuss his successor with any of the Member States and it is up to them to find one.
Question: The President of Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, held a press conference this morning announcing her official nomination to the position of Secretary-General on the invitation of the Baltic Governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. She is the first woman to enter the race and it was reported in the New York Times on Saturday. Since the Secretary-General previously named the Latvian President as an envoy on UN reform, and the Secretary-General is certainly open to women and their candidacies, do you think the Secretary-General will make any comments on this historic announcement?
Spokesman: Let me start with the second part. As I’ve said, the Secretary-General has no horse in this race. It is up to the Member States. They will make the decision on who to elect to succeed him. And not in relation to any comment to the President of Latvia’s candidacy, the Secretary-General has often said that he would welcome a woman as Secretary General, as he would welcome a man, but he will let the Member States choose. But, I urge you to go back to the comments he has made a number of times, notably during his recent Middle East trip on the issue of a woman Secretary-General.
Question: Follow-up on prisoner exchange question. Do I understand correctly that the Secretary-General’s facilitator is not involved in any negotiations for the release of Corporal Shalit by the Palestinians?
Spokesman: The focus on the facilitator is on the situation between Israel and Lebanon.
Question: Follow-up on the financial disclosure, in one of the reports I saw the issue was raised that the SG was concerned that if he does fill this financial disclosure there will problems for his successor. Can you elaborate on that?
Spokesman: It should not be seen as in regards to the list of candidates. It is more an issue of doing something voluntarily and obviously whoever succeeds the Secretary General will have to decide whether or not to follow that example.
Question: So, basically he doesn’t want to create a precedent?
Spokesman: Unless the General Assembly makes a ruling, it will now be up to each Secretary-General to decide on this issue for his or her self.
Question: You mentioned the Ivory Coast. Is there any update on whether President Gbagbo will in fact participate in this anticipated meeting?
Spokesman: We’ve seen the press reports that he would not be coming, but I don’t have anything official on that.
Question: On the Democratic Republic of the Congo one of the militia leaders who you or MONUC has announced would disarm, Peter Karim, the one who took hostages. Now the authorities say he is rearming, he’s recruiting children in order to reach 6,000 troops to be named a general. This is unnamed MONUC sources, quoted by Reuters, saying that. Is there any sort of…?
Spokesman: Let me see if we can find some named MONUC sources and see if they can clarify the situation. On the Congo, just one thing, I was handed a statement to read out which I will read. Regarding the elections, the Secretary-General welcomes last validation by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of the results of the first round of the presidential elections to be held on 30 July. This confirms that a second round will be contested by President Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba. The Secretary-General calls on the two presidential candidates to adhere to the electoral calendar, which sets 29 October as the date for both the second presidential round and for the provincial assembly elections and to reach an early agreement both on the rules of conduct for the electoral campaign and on mutual assurances for security and political engagements thereafter. He also calls on all candidates and political parties to ensure the 29 October elections are conducted in conditions of security and are credible and transparent and to respect the outcome. Any incitement to hatred and violence during the electoral period would be unacceptable and anyone engaging in such activity would be held accountable. The United Nations remains committed to provide all possible support to the Congolese people in holding peaceful and successful elections on October 29th.
Question: Does the Secretary-General believe that in the past years, in the aftermath of the Iraq war, the relations (inaudible) between Member States have gone from bad to worse? Will the Secretary-General once again push for the General Assembly to reform the Security Council?
Spokesman: He would very much like to see the reform of the Security Council. He made that a point in his speech in Havana. On the point of relation between Member States and the Secretariat, they vary. The graph is up and down, but what I think matters to us is that the work of the Secretary General and the staff has been focused on assisting the Iraqi people in various ways in whatever ways we can with the means that we have, whether it’s on electoral issues, constitutional issues, human rights and humanitarian and development.
Question: (inaudible) Can you give us more details about the meeting between the French Foreign Minister and the commander of the UNIFIL forces?
Spokesman: It was obviously a visit looking at the details of the French deployment in UNIFIL, which is a very large deployment, which we very much welcome. Beyond that, I’m sure it was a lot of technical issues. But, we’ll see if we can give you more of a readout afterwards.
Briefing by the Spokeswoman for the General Assembly President
I will give you an update on what is happening in the General Assembly.
The President of the General Assembly this morning opened the Assembly’s high-level meeting on the mid-term review of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010. In her statement, Sheika Haya Al Khalifa said the 2001 Brussels Declaration and the Programme of Action represented “a comprehensive strategy for a global partnership to lift millions of people from extreme poverty”. She commended the LDCs for progress made in achieving an annual growth rate of 6 per cent -- the highest in four decades. She also expressed concern that despite this favourable report card, the World Bank has revealed that 34 of the 50 LDCs are experiencing increases in extreme poverty -- which, if it persists, will prevent them from meeting their Millennium Development Goals. She called on the Assembly to spare no effort in bringing about the significant changes needed so that millions of women, children and men “have a real chance to escape the dehumanizing misery of extreme poverty”.
The LDC meeting will continue all day today and for one hour tomorrow morning. The meeting is expected to adopt a final declaration tomorrow at its conclusion.
An important event to flag for you tomorrow is the launch of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Resolution A/Res/60/288, which was adopted on 8 September 2006, called for the General Assembly to launch the Strategy at a high-level segment of its sixty-first session. The General Assembly President, in keeping with this, on Friday sent a letter to all Member States inviting heads of delegation to participate in the event. The event will be held in the Trusteeship Council at 4.00 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. The President of the Assembly will deliver a statement and we also expect a statement from the Secretary-General.
The strategy, as you will recall, builds on Member States consistent and unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations committed by whomever, and for whatever purposes. It also sets out concrete measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; to strengthen the individual and collective capacity of States and the United Nations to prevent and combat terrorism; and to ensure the protection of human rights while countering terrorism.
Among the important new initiatives which will be promoted by the strategy will be improving the coherence and efficiency of counter-terrorism technical assistance delivery so that all States can play their part effectively; voluntarily putting in place systems of assistance that would address the needs of victims of terrorism and their families; and addressing the threat of bioterrorism by establishing a single comprehensive database on biological incidents.
We invite journalists to attend this event. Again, it’s 4 p.m. tomorrow in the Trusteeship Council.
On Friday, the Assembly concluded its meeting on Migration and Development, having heard more than 140 speakers. The meeting, it was felt, was successful from the point of view that there was a frank exchange of views, particularly at the round tables, and the statements from member States reflected a great deal of common ground. In her closing remarks, Sheika Haya Al Khalifa, President of the Assembly, noted that nearly all of the Member States had expressed the wish to continue the international dialogue. She also observed that many had embraced the Secretary-General’s proposal for establishing a global forum on migration and development. The President’s summary, which will be widely distributed to all Member States, observers and UN agencies and other appropriate organizations, will be available in the coming days.
That’s what I have for you on the Assembly. I also should let you know that the most recent schedule for the debate is out. This is a provisional list of speakers number four. There are changes, I would say, on almost every day for this week except probably Tuesday and Wednesday, so you may want to look at it carefully.
I will take any questions you may have. I do recall there was one question about the security for President Chavez having problems with visas, and someone had asked me whether there was a letter written to the President of the Assembly about this. The answer is no, we haven’t received any such letter.
**Questions and Answers
Spokeswoman: I have no idea, that’s what I was asked on Friday. So, I don’t know whether the person who asked had information to that effect. But, they did ask me to check, and the answer is no.
Question: Did the President of the General Assembly get letters from Iran or any other country having visa problems?
Question: Everyone wrote to the SG?
Spokeswoman: Yes, I gather that.
Question: On today’s debate on least developed countries, will there be a read out at the end of that? How will we get a sense of what… I know it runs into tomorrow morning, we had a briefing, but, given that it’s starting up, where will it be said: “Here are the results or the outcomes”, or what are the conclusions of this?
Spokeswoman: As you know, there will be a document that is going to be adopted tomorrow, but I certainly can get a readout for you if you would like one. That is not a problem, because we have people following very closely. I will get that for you tomorrow. Anything specific that you want to know?
Question: One of the issues that came up in the briefing, specifically, that several of the LDCs are, in fact, oil rich -- Equatorial Guinea and others -- and how the issue is… why extreme poverty remains such a problem and what the UN system would be doing about that.
Spokeswoman: OK, I will definitely look into that for you. Thank you very much.
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