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

9 July 2007

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

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

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES 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 Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Ashraf Kamal, Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly.

Good afternoon.

**Secretary-General in Portugal

The Secretary-General is in Lisbon today, where he met with the Portuguese President [Anibal Cavaco Silva], with whom he discussed the Middle East, Darfur, Timor-Leste, the Alliance of Civilizations, the Millennium Development Goals and climate change.  Earlier, he had met with the former President, Jorge Sampaio, who is the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.

Later, the Secretary-General met with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Filipe Marques Amado.  In comments to reporters afterward, the Secretary-General said he was especially concerned about Darfur.  He noted that the meeting of the International Contact Group in Paris on 25 June appears to have generated a new momentum, and consolidated international support.

The Secretary-General added that the Middle East remains a source of deep concern.  One immediate priority is securing a permanent and reliable reopening of Gaza crossings, to allow in commercial and humanitarian imports.

We will have a transcript of his comments later today.

The Secretary-General will meet shortly with Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates.  Also today, he held separate meetings with the country’s Defence Minister and Interior Minister, as well as the President of the Parliament.

This evening, he is leaving for Brussels.

**Security Council

And the Security Council here is holding consultations on Kosovo.  Joachim Rücker, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there, briefed Council members on the Secretary-General’s recent report on the work of the UN Mission in Kosovo.

In that report, which we flagged to you last week, the Secretary-General says that, while Kosovo’s overall progress is encouraging, there is a real risk that the progress that has been achieved can begin to unravel if its future status remains undefined.

** Iraq

And on Iraq, we issued a statement over the weekend, which expressed the Secretary-General’s condemnation in the strongest terms of the bomb attack on a busy marketplace in northern Iraq, which had reportedly left some 130 people killed and more than 240 wounded, many of them seriously.

The Secretary-General once again urges all Iraqi leaders to work together to bring the violence to a halt and engage in a real political dialogue in the hopes of building a peaceful and stable Iraq.

We also have a statement upstairs from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, who described the bombing as a vicious crime that “shows the inhumane nature of the perpetrators who will stop at nothing in their quest to further foment the flames of sectarianism”.

** Lebanon

And turning to Lebanon, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Claudio Graziano, met with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces today at the UN Position at the border crossing at Ras Al-Naqoura.

The main focus of the meeting was the implementation of resolution 1701 and the recent incidents in UNIFIL’s area of operations, namely, the launching of rockets from Lebanese territory into Israel on 17 June and the terrorist attack on a UNIFIL convoy on 24 June.

Regarding the latter, the Israeli and Lebanese representatives conveyed their condolences on the tragic loss of six UNIFIL peacekeepers and expressed their full support and readiness to work together with UNIFIL to prevent a repeat of such incidents.  The Force Commander thanked the representatives, and added that the UN Mission’s peacekeepers were not deterred by the attack.

We have a press release with more details upstairs.

** Gaza

And the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has announced that construction has come to a halt on all of its building projects in Gaza because of the lack of basic building supplies.  Some $93 million worth of projects are on hold, because cement and other building supplies have run out, according to John Ging, UNRWA’s Director in Gaza.

Ging said that it is imperative that the crossings into Gaza resume full operations, not just for food aid and medicine, but for all commodities and supplies.  Otherwise, Gaza faces the prospect of a humanitarian and public health crisis.  He warned that the closure of the borders means a loss of over a million days of employment, placing an even larger burden on the UN humanitarian aid programme there.

**Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

And the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today agreed in Vienna that the Agency’s inspectors should resume work in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The Board heard a briefing from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei about the visit by an Agency team to the DPRK during the last week of June, where the IAEA discussed modalities for its verification and monitoring of the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

ElBaradei said he welcomed the return of the DPRK to the verification process, adding, “I am particularly pleased with the active cooperation of the DPRK that the IAEA team received during the visit.”  And we have the statement of the Board of Governors upstairs.

** Myanmar

And turning to Myanmar, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived Sunday in Beijing and today began two days of consultations on Myanmar with senior Chinese Government officials, including from the foreign ministry.  From there, he will travel to New Delhi and then to Tokyo for further meetings with Government counterparts before returning to New York over the weekend.

I know some of you have been asking about Mr. Gambari’s travels, and I’d like to say that this is a trip to discuss Myanmar with some of the key countries in the region.  Any effort to promote positive changes in Myanmar is going to require not only direct dialogue with the Government and people of the country, but also dialogue with all interested countries and all who can potentially help support our efforts.  This is why Mr. Gambari is consulting broadly, having visited Washington two weeks ago and having traveled this week to the region.

** Sierra Leone

And on Sierra Leone, tomorrow is the start of the political campaign period for Sierra Leone’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

And today the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Victor Angelo, issued a statement urging all candidates to abide by the Political Parties Code of Conduct.  A peaceful campaign, he said, is crucial for credible elections.  He also appealed to the local media to fully adhere to the Media Code of Conduct as Sierra Leonean journalists share a major responsibility in keeping the electoral process peaceful.  And there’s the full statement upstairs.

** Liberia

And a new group of Liberian men and women have graduated from a UN-backed law-enforcement training programme and have joined the ranks of Liberia national police force.  

This milestone was celebrated this weekend at an event in Monrovia, at which the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General urged the new officers to be “professional in service delivery and accountable to their communities”.  The event marked the graduation of some 360 new police officers, bringing the total number of new officers to more than 3,500, including about 200 women.

And you’ll recall that the Mission’s mandate is to help train Liberian police from Security Council resolution 1509, which requests the UN to monitor and support the creation of a well-trained, mobile police, committed to the protection of citizen’s rights.  There’s a press release from the UN Mission in Monrovia available upstairs.

** Guinea-Bissau

Also available today is the latest Secretary-General’s report on Guinea-Bissau and the work of the UN Peacebuilding Office in that country.

In it, the Secretary-General says that the recent months were marked by a deterioration of political and social tensions, as well as a worsening of economic and financial circumstances for the average citizen.  In terms of the security, very little was achieved in the months under review, despite continued UN engagement of the country’s leadership on several related issues.

The Secretary-General notes that the repeated political crises besetting the Government continue to prevent it from focusing on improving the economic lot of the population.  Among the report’s recommendations, the Secretary-General appeals for a revitalized security sector reform and, in response to a request by Guinea-Bissau, declares the UN’s intention to help organize and monitor next year’s parliamentary elections.

**Former Yugoslavia

And today in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is starting courtroom proceedings in the trial of Rasim Delic, the former Commander of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Delic is being tried on the basis of his command responsibility for murder, cruel treatment and rape committed by his subordinate troops while he was Commander of the Main Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina between June 1993 and September 2005.  And there’s more on this from the Tribunal upstairs.

**Firearms

And the UN Office on Drugs and Crime will be destroying nearly 14,000 firearms in Colombia today, in a special ceremony organized with the national authorities and aimed at highlighting the danger of illegal arms proliferation.

Colombia has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.  Of the 17,000 homicides registered in 2005, most were connected with illegal ownership, manufacture or trade of firearms, says the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.  And there’s a press release on that available upstairs as well.

**Deputy Secretary-General Press Conference

And this is just for your planning purposes.  We learned later than The Week Ahead was given to you on Friday, that the Deputy Secretary-General intends to speak to you about her recent travels, including her visit to the African Union Summit in Ghana, her visit to Guinea-Bissau and also to Kenya.  And she will be the guest here at the noon briefing on Wednesday to talk to you.

So that’s what I have for you.  We have Ashraf here to brief on the General Assembly.  Before we move on, let’s start with Edie.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Two questions:  First, are there any plans for Mr. Gambari to go to Myanmar itself?  And second, when you were reading about the meeting between General Graziano and the other people in UNIFIL, I think you meant to say that the dates of the attacks were in June, not July.

Deputy Spokesperson:  You’re absolutely right.

Correspondent:  You said July 17th.   [talkover]

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think we’re all trying to get to summer vacation.

On your question about Myanmar -– yes, the Secretary-General has asked Mr. Gambari to continue his dialogue with the Government and the people of Myanmar.  And he, therefore, intends to visit Myanmar again soon, although dates have not yet been settled and he will not be going on this trip, as I mentioned. 

[It was later announced that Mr. Gambari will only be spending one day in China and that he departs Tuesday for New Delhi.  In Beijing today, he met with foreign ministry officials: Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Binguo, Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and Director-General Wu Hailong.]

Yes?

Question:  I read this morning that the Secretary-General said yesterday that the UNIFIL is necessary to improve the control on the Lebanese-Syrian borders.  Do you have any more information about his statement?  It’s the first time he’s saying anything like this.

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I don’t.  You’re probably referring to an interview that he had that was picked in European newspapers.  So we’d have to go back and I obviously did not attend that interview.  But I can look into that for you and see what remarks have been published.

[The correspondent later told the Secretary-General spoke about the need to monitor the boarder area on both sides, but he did not refer to United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.]

Question:  Do you possibly still have a copy of Mr. Joachim Rücker’s report today?  Is it available?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Mr. Rücker’s report to the Security Council is in closed consultations.  Those closed consultations are on the Secretary-General’s report on Kosovo and the UN Mission in Kosovo, which came out last week and which we reported to you.  So you have copies of that report and that’s essentially what he will be briefing on.

Question:  On Kosovo, it’s obvious now that the Security Council will not be able to take a decision on Kosovo’s status, because of the Russian veto and, perhaps, the Chinese objection as well.  Does Mr. Ban Ki-moon support Kosovo to declare independence unilaterally away from the UN and the Security Council?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General’s position has been most recently articulated in his report to the Security Council, and I think the matter right now is in the hands of the Security Council.

Question:  In Somalia, the International Maritime Organization said it has asked, I think, the Secretary-General and now the Security Council to do something about piracy off the coast of Somalia.  I know Ban Ki-moon was asked about it while he was in Geneva and he said he would look into it.  This is from the transcript.  Has he received this request?  What’s he going to do?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’m not familiar with that issue myself, so let me look into that for you and I’ll…

[The correspondent was later told that, though he has not been informed formally, the Secretary-General is aware that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council last week decided to request that he bring the matter of piracy against ships carrying humanitarian aid off the coast of Somalia to the attention of the United Nations Security Council.  He expects to discuss the matter with the Secretary-General of the IMO, Efthimios Mitropoulos, in London.

The issue of piracy against ships carrying humanitarian aid off Somalia is of deep concern to the Secretary-General and the Security Council because the United Nations itself has been a victim of this scourge, which has affected its ability to deliver aid to Somalia (World Food Programme (WFP) ship hijacked 25 February).  Last year, on 15 March 2006, in a presidential statement, the Security Council encouraged Member States whose vessels and aircraft operate in international waters and airspace off the coast of Somalia to take appropriate action to protect merchant shipping, in particular the transportation of humanitarian aid.]

Question:  And also this week, beginning today, there’s the meeting of the Pension Board, the Pension Fund.  There’s a request by the CEO of the Pension Fund, Mr. Cocheme, to end the Secretary-General’s representation on the Pension Board, i.e., Warren Sach’s role as sort of a co-overseer of it.  So I’m wondering, there have been letters, there was a letter to the Secretary-General from the WIPO participant’s representative in June supporting that.  What position is the Secretary-General taking on that proposal to eliminate his role in the Pension Board?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’ll look into that for you as well.

Question:  I just wanted to find out on North Korea.  What’s the procedure of the IAEA [inaudible] dismantling or stopping of this programme has been done.  Does it come back to the Security Council and tell them this is done and then they lift the sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea?

Deputy Spokesperson:  We just received the announcement that the Board has given the green light for their mission, so let’s take it a step at a time.  I think they will have to then announce the dates to go, then they’ll probably report back.  Normally, as you know, when the IAEA transmits a report to the Board, then that report is also transmitted to the Security Council.  That’s normally the process that they take. 

Question:  On Iraq, I just wanted to find out.  Iraq is turning out to be the killing field.  Everyday there is something.  Does the Secretary-General still think the United Nations should eventually take on, become involved in Iraq as a peacekeeping force, as has been suggested time and again?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Sorry I didn’t hear the verb I your question.

Question:  On Iraq, I mean the United States and other countries are saying that eventually the United Nations has to have a role to stabilize Iraq.  But given the situation as it is spiralling out of control, and the civil war [inaudible], will the United Nations, the Secretary-General still consider the UN’s being involved again in Iraq?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General, has repeatedly stressed his desire and the United Nations desire to do whatever it can to help the people of Iraq.  I don’t think there’s any question of a UN peacekeeping force.  I think the UN has been playing a very important role in the political process, in the constitution, in the humanitarian, and he hopes to make a difference eventually in the reconstruction effort.  But as long as the security conditions on the ground are the way they are, it’s difficult for the UN to put more people on the ground.

Question:  First of all, a couple of questions actually.  As a follow-up to the gentleman who was asking on Kosovo.  Does the Secretary-General still support Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan on Kosovo and when was the last time that he heard from him or he talked to him?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’d have to look into that for you.  His position has not changed. 

Question:  He supports Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan on Kosovo?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General’s position on the Ahtisaari plan has not changed. 

Question:  Okay.  One more please.  I’m not getting answers, I mean, from last week’s also, and I’m getting a little frustrated, I must confess.  I don’t understand what’s going in regard to choosing of a replacement for Ms. Del Ponte?  You promised me that you were going to look into that, and you didn’t get back to me.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I said as soon as we have something to announce, we will announce it.

Question:  And who is involved in choosing and picking…

Deputy Spokesperson:  We ran through this for you before last week.  We said that the Security Council is the final authority on this issue.

Correspondent:  I don’t understand.  What is…I mean, is this something humorous here?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, no, but we’ve already gone through this…

Correspondent:  I’m asking you questions here.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, Erol, and we’ve answered it.  I have nothing further from last Friday. 

Correspondent:  Okay.

Question:  How is Secretary-General responding to the news that the Arab League for the first time in its history will be sending a delegation of diplomats to discuss what is termed, a “sweeping” peace initiative with the Israeli Government? 

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t have a specific comment from the Secretary-General on the particular movement today.  But, as you know, the Secretary-General has put efforts to get peace in the Middle East as one of his top issues, and this is obviously an area that whatever dialogue that can take place that can bring the situation towards peace, he would encourage.

Question:  About the IAEA report about the DPRK.  Is that now available, because I had seen that that wasn’t available -- the plan that is going to be done, do you know if that’s available now?

Deputy Spokesperson:  That you’d have to look at -– the IAEA is very good about posting whatever is made public on their website, so we’d have to look at that.  Today, the announcement was obviously from the Board of Governors.

Question:  Second question has to do with this meeting in Geneva that is going on with the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council).  I guess the question I saw raised was, what is the follow-up and development from Tunis and the Internet –- the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) developments.  And some people were sort of raising the question, is it basically the GAID (Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development), that’s the only follow-up or is there other follow-up.  Is there some way to follow up on that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  We’ll look into that for you.

Question:  In the past few days, tens of civilians died in Afghanistan by US air strikes, even while the Secretary-General was there in Kabul last week.  What new position can Mr. Ban Ki-moon take on this?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as you yourself just mentioned, the Secretary-General raised this issue and discussed it with the authorities on the ground when he was there in Kabul.  He was only there for four hours when he met with the various players on the ground. 

This is also an issue that he mentioned at the recent Afghan rule of law conference that he attended in Rome.  This is one of the top issues that he has raised both in his public statements and in his interactions with the various parties.  So, it is an issue that concerns him highly and I would like to refer you to his remarks made in Rome, I believe, it was last week.

Question:  We haven’t heard much in terms of Secretary-General Ban sort of directly involved in what’s happening with North Korea in the negotiations.  Is there anything that is happening, perhaps, behind the scenes that you haven’t reported on, or does he have any plans to get more visibly engaged in that process?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No there’s nothing that we have not reported to you about.  As I mentioned today, the IAEA has taken a step moving this process along.  The Secretary-General welcomes this.  He encourages, you know, progress to be made on this, and he has always been a supporter of the six-party talks, and he continues to, obviously, follow that very closely.  And he is willing to do whatever he can if his services are needed.

Question:  Has he been asked to, perhaps, intercede at all, or does he have any plans to travel to the region to maybe wear the hat, as he was once Foreign Minister of South Korea.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have no understanding of any such plans right now.

Question:  About this [inaudible] UNRWA, the situation described by [inaudible], lack of supplies and so forth.  Does the Secretary-General intend to talk to the Israeli authorities to ask them to ensure that these supplies are kept in stock, to be delivered to UNRWA so that they could work to re-habitat this [inaudible]…

Deputy Spokesperson:  I mean specifically on today’s item, I cannot confirm whether he’s spoken to Israeli authorities, but throughout these last few weeks, he has, as you know, been in constant touch with the parties and the issue of the crossings has been one of his primary concerns on the humanitarian front.

Question:  About Sudan, there’s a report that came out over the weekend, one, reporting that not only is there is no Special Representative of the Secretary-General but that the Deputy, Manuel da Silva has left and that the head of UN OCHA has left.  This article quotes the head of the [inaudible], a non-profit that partnered on the Rwanda exhibit, saying that the lack of leadership is appalling, Ban Ki-moon has taken the pressure off the Government of Sudan and quoting something from the International Crisis Group that it is shocking there is no Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Sudan.  So, is there some, can you, number one, factually confirm that Deputy Manuel da Silva has left and that head of UN OCHA is no longer in Sudan?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Deputy SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-General) for Sudan is the head of the OCHA office.  So I believe that’s the same individual.  And yes, my understanding was that he was due to leave.  I do know that he was due to leave around this time.

But in terms of who is on the ground, we do have an acting Special Representative, in the name of Tayé Zerihoun, who is a veteran on the ground, and he’s been holding the fort.  We don’t have an announcement on a new SRSG for Sudan, but Mr. Zerihoun is very much on the ground in charge.

Question:  The same article actually says that the Deputy is eager to leave.  I don’t knowwhat the sourcing of that is, but I guess, is there some way that we could… given that it is now many months since there’s been a SRSG in this important country, what’s the hang-up, are they checking with people?

Deputy Spokesperson:  As you know, Sudan, especially Darfur, is a top priority for the Secretary-General.  So I know that there is an active search underway and as soon as we can announce something we will.

Question:  Just one more.  On Kosovo, this announcement of not using rubber bullets anymore, the question comes up, in what other UN DPKO missions are rubber bullets in use and what troop contributing countries use them?  I tried to get the answer, but…

Deputy Spokesperson:  But I think we sent you an email on that on Friday.

Question:  A non-governmental organization, Mothers from Srebrenica, who sued the United Nations for the complicit Srebrenica genocide are now saying that Mrs. Carla del Ponte is not welcome on the twelfth anniversary of Srebrenica, that is going to be the day after tomorrow.  Are there any reactions from the United Nations on that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have not seen the recent communication that you are referring to, but I can look into that for you.

Question:  And also on the same subject, I asked you last week -- I forget to mention before but I kindly ask again -- whether there is any letter from 18 prosecutors of the ICTY to the United Nations Secretary-General that they preferred to Mr. David Talbert instead of Mr. Brammertz.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have a question into that for you.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later told the correspondent the Secretary-General and the Secretariat regularly receive messages in support of candidates to be appointed or nominated by the Secretary-General.  We cannot make specific comments about these messages.  However, we can confirm that, with respect to the position of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, we have received expressions of support for the candidates under consideration.]

And just to let you know, the Security Council consultations have adjourned.  The Security Council will now meet in a formal session to adopt a presidential statement on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

That’s all I have for you and I will turn over to Ashraf for a General Assembly briefing.  Thank you.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.  The President co-opened the Istanbul conference on globalization and the economic development of the LDCs (least developed countries) this morning with Mr. Abdullah Gül, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkey. 

Addressing the conference, the Sheikha said: “While there are many who question whether globalization has been good or bad, we all agree that the world today will continue to be shaped by the many aspects of this phenomenon.”

The paradox is evident when some in the world are waiting in line to buy new consumer technologies, at a cost almost equal to the annual per capita income of hundreds of millions of people.

She quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s famous line that, in poor places, people see God in a piece of bread.  And this still holds true after many decades.  The LDCs have found themselves in an unfortunate situation.  They have benefited least from globalization, and have been affected most by its negative impact.

Copies of the statement are available in the office upstairs as well as on the General Assembly website.

The Sheikha will leave Istanbul for Tunisia for a bilateral visit upon the invitation of the Tunisian Government.  This will be the last leg on her trip which started with her address before ECOSOC on 2 July and her statement before the Global Compact meeting on the fifth.  She returns to New York at the end of the week.

The next meeting you should mark on your calendar is the informal consultations on the reform of the Security Council on the 19th of this month.

That’s all I have.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Do you have any update on the negotiations, the talks, on the Security Council expansion between the [inaudible] and the delegations?

Spokesperson:  She was briefed by the two facilitators on the status of the negotiations –- the consultations –- and this is when they decided to hold the meeting on the 19th, so that the whole membership would be there to express their opinion.

Question:  This may be a little dry, but…

Spokesperson:  Your questions are never dry, Matthew, I assure you.

Question:  [Inaudible] but I want to know, there’s a proposal by the Pension Fund’s CEO in the proposed budget to create 43 new posts for the UN Pension Fund.  So, I’m wondering, obviously they have to present it downstairs, but is the type of thing, is the relationship between the UN system and the pension fund such that these 43 posts would have to go through the Fifth Committee, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), all of that?

Spokesperson:  Any posts that are created in the budget have to go through the Fifth.

Question:  And when do they next convene?

Spokesperson:  When the item on the Pension Fund comes up then they can present their proposals.

Question:  You indicated that on the 19th of this month there will be consultations on Security Council reform.  What type of consultations will these be?  Who is conducting the negotiations?

Spokesperson:  It’s not negotiations.  I stressed that.  The consultations are going to be on the latest report by the two facilitators, and this will be exactly the same format of the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council reform -- meaning -- all the members.

Question:  I just wanted to check whether the outgoing President of the General Assembly is meeting on a regular basis with the new President of the General Assembly.  How many times did…?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know how many times.  I could ask her about that, but you know, she’s been away now for almost nine days.  But, yes, there have been consultations among them.

Question:  Among them?

Spokesperson:  Yes, between them.

Question:  Will there be any reports from ECOSOC after the meeting for us here?  Because the meeting is going on now in Geneva.

Spokesperson:  If there is any report I would make it available immediately.

Question:  What will the President discuss at her meeting in Tunis?

Spokesperson:  It’s a bilateral visit, it’s not really –- I haven’t’ been told anything about what they’re going to discuss, but if I’m told anything about anything that they discuss, I’ll report it to you.  I don’t have the agenda for the Tunisia meeting yet.

Question:  Is it an official meeting or a private visit?

Spokesperson:  It’s a private visit. 

Question:  Is there anything fresh on the Capital Master Plan, any Member States, any new development on that?  And it’s true that this year’s General Assembly debate will still be housed in the old location.

Spokesperson:  Yes, as far as I know.  I think, I’m not actually sure where I received that, but there was a semi-detailed plan of when everything is going to happen, and I don’t think anything is happening this year. 

Questions:  No developments of any sort?

Spokesperson:  Not in the General Assembly building.  They are just doing a little bit of fixing of the building from the inside, but it has nothing to do with the Capital Master Plan.

Question:  Does the new chief architect for the Capital Master Plan have his office here at the UN also?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know.  You should have asked Marie about that.  Alright?  Thank you.

* *** *

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