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

15 March 2007

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

15 March 2007
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

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

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

 

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, Ashraf Kamal.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon all.

First, we have a group of visiting journalists from Iran attending the briefing.  We would like to welcome them.

** Iraq Compact

Immediately after my briefing and the General Assembly Spokesman’s briefing, we will have an off-the-record briefing on the Iraq Compact, as we promised.  So we will be turning off the cameras and you will have your background information, the one that you requested.

**Secretary-General

After his luncheon with the Security Council, the Secretary-General will go to the second floor Security Council stakeout to take your questions this afternoon.  He will also be available for questions outside of the GA Hall after the vote in the General Assembly on the two framework resolutions on his restructuring proposal.  And I’m sure Ashraf will tell you more about this.  We have embargoed copies upstairs of the Secretary-General’s statement to the General Assembly.

**Security Council

The Security Council is holding consultations this morning on non-proliferation, which as we understand, deals with Iran.  A draft resolution on Iran was circulated.  The Security Council will also consider other matters.

Then, this afternoon, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, will brief the Council in an open meeting on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Mission in Iraq.

Yesterday, the Council adopted a press statement on Côte d’Ivoire, by which it welcomed the agreement signed by President Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro in Ouagadougou on 4 March.

** Palestine

In response to questions on the inter-Palestinian talks, the Secretary-General is pleased that the negotiations for the National Unity Government have now been completed.  He is looking forward to the formation of the Government and its programme.  He hopes that this process will result in a Government that will respect existing agreements and reflect Quartet principles.

** West Africa

Available as a document today is the Secretary-General’s report on cross-border issues in West Africa, covering recent developments in the areas of security, post-conflict reconstruction, good governance and transitional justice mechanisms.

In it, the Secretary-General writes that while still fragile, the overall security environment in West Africa continues to improve, notably in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  Among the recommendations in the report, the Secretary-General proposes that the UN and development partners broaden their definition of and views on security sector reform to include larger economic development strategies.

**IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, yesterday completed a visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a visit ElBaradei called an “overall door opener.”  Noting that that has improved the "rocky relationship" between his agency and the DPRK since IAEA inspectors left the country in December 2002, ELBaradei says the country is now considering resuming its membership in the IAEA.

His meetings with DPRK officials, he said, also focused on the IAEA’s initial monitoring and verification role for the shutdown of the DPRK´s nuclear facilities.  The next step would be an agreement with the DPRK on specific technical arrangements for monitoring and verification, the terms of which would be subject to approval by the IAEA Board of Governors.  And we have a press release from the IAEA upstairs.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General is in Brussels today, where she is meeting with officials from European institutions and the Belgian Foreign Minister.

She also launched the first-ever comprehensive report on cooperation between the United Nations and European Union in the area of development and humanitarian aid following a meeting with Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.

The tangible results of this cooperation are detailed in a new report “The partnership between the UN and the EU.”  The UN report explains that the UN and the European Commission are working together in more than 80 developing countries and countries in transition, making a significant impact in the areas of development and human rights, humanitarian assistance, and post conflict rehabilitation and recovery.

The report is posted on the website of the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels. 

**Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is currently considering various reports on topics such as: the defamation of religion; racism; children in armed conflict; the right to development; missing persons; and the death penalty. 

In a statement to the Council today, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said that no country was immune from human rights problems and that all countries could therefore benefit from cooperation with human rights mechanisms.  Copies of her statement are available upstairs.  As to the Council’s schedule tomorrow, we can confirm that the High-Level Mission to Darfur will present its report tomorrow, after which an interactive discussion will take place.  The head of the Mission, Jody Williams, will hold a press conference at the UN Office at Geneva after the presentation.

**Timor-Leste

A locust infestation is causing major concerns in western Timor-Leste.  Latest survey results by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the local agricultural ministry, found more one 4,500 hectares of mainly maize crops already damaged by the pests.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says there is an urgent need for the provision of pesticides in order to control the outbreak.

**Guest at Noon Briefing on Friday

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, will be the guest at the noon briefing tomorrow.  That briefing was planned for today, but for scheduling reasons, Ms. Coomaraswamy will now brief you tomorrow on her recent visit to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is all I have for you.  We will have Ashraf in a few minutes.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  What was the reason for the visit of the French Prime Minister, Mr. Villepin?  Did he meet with the Secretary-General?  And what did they discuss?  Can you give us any idea?

Spokesperson:  They did meet today.  I think the meeting ended a few minutes before I came in.  As you could see, there was a stakeout by Mr. Villepin about the meeting and about all the issues.  And I didn’t have time to get a readout of the meeting itself.  But I will get one for you soon.

Question:  Is there a way we can get a copy of the draft resolution on Iran and the Security Council?

Spokesperson: We don’t have it at the moment.  If we have it, we’ll make it available.

Question: I just have a second question.  Does the Secretary-General have any response to the way that the US has dealt with the BDA - the Banco Delta Asia -- dispute that’s very crucial to the decision to what will happen in the six-party talks? Has he looked at that and can we have his response to what he thinks of what the US has decided to do about that?

Spokesperson:  I don’t think we have a statement on that or an opinion on that.

Question:  The French Prime Minister just called for collective action on a Sudan show of diplomacy, sort of a massive diplomatic effort, for many countries to get involved.  Knowing what you do about the Secretary-General’s thinking on Sudan, do you think he would support that notion?

Spokesperson:  I think he would.  And you can ask him directly today about this because he will be available for questions after the luncheon.

Question: And his trip to Sudan could be part of that?

Spokesperson: I don’t think there are any plans for the Sudan.  As you know, he accepted in principle the invitation he got from President al-Bashir.  However, there are no plans at the moment to go in the near future to Sudan.

Question: What about North Korea? Given all the activity and movement there, is there any talk of him going to North Korea? 

Spokesperson: Not at the moment.

Question: You mentioned before the three principles of the Quartet. Yesterday in his speech in his briefing to the Council Under-Secretary-General Pascoe indicated in his remarks that actually these could be reduced to one principle namely that if the Palestinians, that if Hamas has agreed, according to the Mecca Agreement, to abide by all resolutions.  That also entails recognition of Israel and anti-terrorism.  But in the Quartet principles, these are three distinct principles.  The question is: is the UN thinking now that the three principles can be reduced into one? And basically they agreed to abide by all resolutions.  That means that they’ve already accepted Israel’s right to exist and anti-terrorism.

Spokesperson: You know Mr. Pascoe made his statement yesterday.  You heard it.  It was self-explanatory.

Question: No, I’m asking a specific question.  Are there three principles or one principle as far as the UN is concerned?

Spokesperson: Mr. Pascoe reflects the UN point of view.

Are there any other questions?  Because I would like to give Ashraf the floor and so we can take away the TV cameras.

Question: I don’t know if you made a statement at the beginning, but how does he react to the announcement of a new united cabinet of the Fatah and Hamas?

Spokesperson: I did have a statement this morning.

Question: You did?

Spokesperson: Yes.

Question: OK.  Thank you.

Spokesperson:  OK. Thank you.  Ashraf?

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly

Good afternoon.

**Secretariat Restructuring Proposals

The General Assembly President is convening this afternoon a meeting of the Assembly plenary to take action on two draft resolutions on strengthening the capacity of the Organization in peacekeeping operations and on advancing the disarmament agenda.

The President is extremely pleased with this outcome of the consultation process, which will provide the Secretary-General with clear political support and procedural guidance.

She is particularly grateful to her facilitators on the two tracks -- Ambassadors Løvald and Kariyawasam of Norway and Sri Lanka, and Ambassadors Salgueiro and Rosselli of Portugal and Uruguay -- for their tireless efforts in assisting her so effectively to reach a balanced outcome around which all Member States can rally.  The President is also grateful to all the Member States for their spirit of cooperation and flexibility during the consultation process.

A letter sent by the President yesterday to Member States on the subject, as well as the two draft resolutions are available upstairs.  We also have embargoed copies of her statement at the meeting later this afternoon.

That’s all I have.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Can you report about what happened with the Security Council reform meeting that took place with the General Assembly, with the interactive sessions?

Spokesperson: That was a panel discussion with the facilitators. The facilitators reported to the Presidenton that meeting.  And she’s still holding out on what to do later on, the next step.  As soon as they decide on something, you’ll be the first to know.

That’s it.  Thank you.

* *** *

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