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

21 December 2006

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

21 December 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.

Briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.  I don’t have much for you today, but what I do have, I will share with you.

** Sudan

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the senior UN official sent by the Secretary-General to Khartoum, met today with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir to discuss the way forward on Darfur.  He delivered a letter from the Secretary-General, which has now been distributed to all the members of the Security Council.  Also today, Ould-Abdallah met with the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Lam Akol.

**Security Council Today

Meanwhile, back here this morning, the Security Council met with the troop-contributing countries to the UN Operation in Burundi, and in closed consultations, heard a briefing by Nureldin Satti, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi.  Following that, Council members will hold an open meeting on general issues relating to sanctions.  And I’m told Mr. Satti will stop at the stakeout on the way out for those of you who didn’t get a chance to talk to him yesterday, or if you have further questions.

**Security Council Yesterday

Yesterday, the Council adopted a presidential statement following a meeting on the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, in which it welcomed the Directorate’s renewed focus on the implementation of the UN’s global counter-terrorism strategy and related Security Council resolutions.

In the afternoon, the Council renewed its arms and travel embargoes on Liberia for one year, unanimously adopting a resolution to that effect.  Later, the Council held another open meeting on the Great Lakes region of Africa and adopted a presidential statement congratulating the Great Lakes region leaders on the signing of the security pact, which took place in Nairobi earlier this month.

They wrapped up their work yesterday with closed consultations on the issue of Iran.

**Drugs and Crime in Colombia

According to a new report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Colombia needs to do more to crack down on organized crime and illicit trafficking in firearms and ammunition.  At the same time, however, the perception that Colombia is plagued by a culture of indiscriminate violence is incorrect, according to the report by UNODC.  And we have that report upstairs.

**Press Conferences Today

And just this afternoon, at 1 o’clock, Kemal Dervis, Chair of the UN Development Group and the Administrator of UNDP, will be here to talk to you about progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, trends in official development assistance and the need for inclusive economic growth.

And then, at 3 o’clock, Eric Schwartz, who is the Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, will be here to launch a report about the lessons learned from the tsunami recovery process.

And that’s it for me.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Is Mr. Abdallah going to wait for a written answer?

Spokesman:  Yes.  The meetings he had with the President were good but we’re obviously waiting for a written response from President Bashir, and he has told us that response will be coming shortly.

Question:  No time?

Spokesman:  No, we expect it in the next two days but -- I’m always a little loath to give you a hard time -- Mr. Abdallah will wait for the response in Khartoum.

Question:  Regarding the United Nations global counter-terrorism effort, I’m a bit puzzled.  The United Nations hasn’t yet come up with a definition for terrorism, so what is the definition of counter-terrorism and what is the United Nations trying to achieve?

Spokesman:  The General Assembly adopted a counter-terrorism strategy a short while back, which I would refer you to.  There are obviously a lot of issues dealing with the effects of terrorism and preventing terrorism that can be worked on without an actual definition.  A lot of the work of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee is also based on strengthening the capacity of the members of the Security Council in their fight against terrorism.

Question:  But, what are these organizations on counter-terrorism ready to address?  Because this is part of the substance of the matter:  what do we define as terrorism?

Spokesman:  I understand.  As you know, the General Assembly has been struggling with that definition but it has not stopped the Member States or the Organization to fight the effects of terrorism and to try to prevent it from happening.

Question:  Yesterday, the [European Union] EU confirmed that it will oversee policing of the judiciary in Kosovo after the Ahtisaari announcement, and the quote was, “the international community does not want to remain doing this.  Has Ahtisaari said anything to predict this?” Is that the way it’s going?

Spokesman:  I can’t and I would not want to prejudge the conclusions of Mr. Ahtisaari’s report.  There are obviously a lot of comments being made left, right and centre but we have to wait for Mr. Ahtisaari’s report.

Question:  In Nepal, there were earlier reports that everything was going smoothly and now the Maoists have called for a general strike.  Has Ian Martin or anybody said anything?  Is that a threat to the process?

Spokesman:  Obviously we would very much hope that all the parties in Nepal who signed on to the peace process follow the procedures that have been agreed to.

Question:  Does the Secretary-General have any comment about the passing of the leader of Turkmenistan?

Spokesman:  Yes, as a matter of fact, as you were asking me questions, I was given a statement.  It says the Secretary-General has learned of the sudden death of Turkmen President Atayevich Niyazov.  President Niyazov made important contributions to United Nations peace processes in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.  The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the family of the late President and to the people of Turkmenistan.

Question:  I want to thank [Department of Public Information] DPI and Gary Fowlie’s office and others for getting us a sound system on the six-way talks on Iran.  What I fail to understand though, is why there can’t be cameras there too because looking at an empty Security Council stakeout mike when the news is negotiations on Iran -- not this moment because everybody’s in the Council -- but most times, when the Council has a meeting and they have a meeting, or this afternoon at 3 p.m., I haven’t quite understood why the cameras have to look at an empty mike.  And the cameramen are sitting there reading a book and they would much rather be active.

Spokesman:  We’ll talk to United Nations TV and try to sort this out.

Question:  Secondly, have you figured out why the resolution on the official outlook and announcements by your Office, the Iran negotiations are called “non-proliferation” and the word “ Iran” does not appear, although it’s in every other line in the resolution itself?

Spokesman:  It goes under the heading in the agenda of the Security Council.

Question:  Why?

Spokesman:  I think you’d have to ask the Security Council why they use that.

Question:  It’s so nineteenth century.

Spokesman:  We’re struggling to be a twentieth century Organization in the twenty-first century, so give us that much.

Correspondent:  We know that but people reading the outlook don’t.

Spokesman:  I understand.  We’ll take that up again with them.

Question:  Yesterday, I asked a question about Israel’s nuclear arsenal and if Mr. Annan is going to answer the Iranian Ambassador’s letter.

Spokesman:  We will advise you when, and if there is an answer.  The letter is being studied.  I will advise you what the next step is.

Question:  I think earlier it was said that [Office of Internal Oversight Services] OIOS would give us a briefing, maybe before the end of this year.  Is that going to take place?

Spokesman:  OIOS told me they would be willing to give a briefing as soon as the resolution regarding OIOS has been passed in the General Assembly.  Gail isn’t here.  I will check with her.  When that happens, we’ll go back to OIOS.

Question:  If it’s passed Friday, they wouldn’t hold the briefing then.

Spokesman:  I would think early in the year.  The idea is not to bury the briefing.

Question:  No, and also, not to say this is being buried, but the anti-revolving door policy?  Will it be announced tomorrow, before noon or after noon?

Spokesman:  We are determined to get it done before the end of the year.  It is being finalized.  I would be very happy to announce it for you tomorrow.

Question:  And Ibrahima Fall, first we learned that there are two of them yesterday.

Spokesman:  Each person is their own person.  They just happen to share the same last name.

Question:  And first name.  That’s what’s confusing.  But the Great Lakes Ibrahima Fall, is he continuing on with his Great Lakes mandate?

Spokesman:  I think the mandate is continuing.  Who is the other Ibrahima Fall?

Q  The UNICEF Ibrahima Fall, who went to [ Central African Republic] CAR?

Spokesman:  That’s two different people.

Question:  What is the coordination between the United Nations and the Arab League regarding the initiative on Lebanon?

Spokesman:  Amr Moussa’s initiative in Lebanon is being actively supported by the United Nations but it is, we are being kept apprised of it but the Secretary-General’s had a number of conversations with Mr. Moussa.  Our folks on the ground are in touch with him, but it is Mr. Moussa’s initiative and he’s in the lead on it.

Question:  Do you expect any outcome?

Spokesman:  It’s hard to say when.  We very much hope for a positive outcome but we don’t know when.

Question:  On that same subject, Mr. Moussa, Mr. Mubarak, since Sudan considers a United Nations force part of a Western-Zionist plot, has there been any pressure from the Arab League for them to accept?  Or from the leading countries in the Arab League?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General has been very clear from the start that the countries in the region, including the members of the Arab League, have a role to play in helping to move Khartoum.

Question:  Have they been pressuring Khartoum?

Spokesman:  They have and I think we’re eagerly awaiting the response from President Bashir.  Thank you.

* *** *

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