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

26 March 2008

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

26 March 2008
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 Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, all.  I see we have in the room today students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.  Welcome, and I trust I’ll see you again as you enter the exciting -- exciting?  I don’t know -- world of reporting on the United Nations!

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning heard a briefing, in an open meeting, on the situation in Guinea-Bissau by the Secretary-General’s Representative in that country, Shola Omoregie.  He told the Council that President Vieira last night announced that Guinea-Bissau will hold legislative elections this 16 November. Omoregie said that the announcement should significantly reduce the tensions that have been building in the country in the past few days, and said it is important that the country’s partners provide resources to enable the holding of the elections in November.  The Council went on to discuss Guinea-Bissau further in closed consultations.  After that, the Security Council expects to hold consultations on the Great Lakes region, to hear from João Honwana, Director of the Africa Division of the Department of Political Affairs, about the talks taking place in Juba between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

** Sudan

On Sudan, the World Food Programme today expressed deep sadness and shock at the killing of three drivers of WFP-contracted trucks in two separate incidents in Sudan.  One driver was shot dead on Monday on the main route to Nyala in South Darfur.  And last Saturday, in southern Sudan, two truck drivers were stabbed to death by assailants in the town of Abiemnom in Unity State as they were carrying WFP food to Abyei.  WFP said that this situation is completely unacceptable, with drivers who transport its food aid facing daily acts of violence.  The turnaround time for food deliveries has been slowed because truckers are unwilling to risk driving on dangerous roads.  The incident in Darfur brings to 56 the number of trucks involved in hijackings this year; 36 trucks remain missing and 24 drivers are unaccounted for.  A further six WFP passenger vehicles have been stolen in Darfur this year.

And we have just received a statement by the Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.  It says attacks against humanitarian actors in Darfur have reached unprecedented levels, jeopardizing operations there and the welfare of people in Darfur.  The humanitarian community condemns all acts of violence.  It calls for a cessation of all attacks, the immediate release of those abducted, and no impunity for those who target humanitarians anywhere in Sudan.  We have copies of the statement upstairs in my office.

** Somalia

On Somalia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has endorsed a joint statement by some 40 humanitarian agencies working in Somalia, in which they warned of an impending catastrophe.  The agencies noted that close to 1 million displaced Somalis rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs and that violence continues to displace Mogadishu residents at a rate of 20,000 people each month.  The agencies deplore the fact that humanitarian workers are routinely attacked, robbed or killed and that relief supplies are stolen or looted.  They call on the international community and the Somali parties to urgently focus their attention on Somalia’s crisis.

And OCHA agrees with the agencies that Somalia’s situation is precarious, deteriorating and in urgent need of international attention.  It says that the prevailing violence and impunity in Somalia are unacceptable and cannot be allowed to persist.  While the UN has the personnel and resources to help the people of Somalia, UN workers often cannot gain access to those in need because the parties and the violence restrict their movement.  OCHA calls on the parties to remove roadblocks, ease humanitarian restrictions on humanitarian agencies and ensure the protection of all civilians.

** Côte d’Ivoire

On Côte d’Ivoire, five criteria proposed by Y.J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, to certify the electoral process in that country have been welcomed by the follow-up committee to the Ouagadougou peace agreement.  The committee, formally known as the Evaluation and Accompanying Committee, endorsed the five-criterion framework after a consultative meeting this week in Ouagadougou.  According to the framework, the UN should be able to ascertain the following in order to certify the validity of the elections:  restoration of peace across the country; an inclusive political process; equal access to the state media; the establishment of objective electoral lists; and fair and unbiased poll results.  These criteria were developed by the United Nations in consultation with the Facilitator of the inter-Ivorian dialogue, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, and the Ivorian parties, who have also welcomed them.

** Cyprus

Turning now to Cyprus, the UN Development Programme, with funds from the European Union, today completed a safety check in the area of the proposed Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia.  The check for unexploded ordnance was necessary to secure buildings before the opening of the crossing point.  A six-person mine action team carried out the search, with support from the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).  No dangerous items were found.

Also on Cyprus, according to UNFICYP, the advisers to Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have agreed, in accordance with the agreement reached by the leaders, to establish, as soon as possible, several specific working groups and technical committees.  Subject to need, both advisers agreed to establish further working groups and technical committees, as required, in order to ensure that their respective leaders may be able to negotiate as effectively as possible on the full spectrum of issues to be discussed in Cyprus.  The advisers have agreed to meet again on Friday under UN auspices.  And we have more on this upstairs.

**AIDS in Asia

You just had a press conference this morning in this room on a new report that was launched today, called: “Redefining AIDS in Asia -- Crafting an Effective Response”.  In remarks made at the launch, the Secretary-General said that Asia has proved before that it can act decisively and effectively in the face of grave threats, including with SARS five years ago.  But tackling AIDS will require a collective effort on all fronts, from fighting gender inequality to combating stigma, discrimination, and marginalization of certain populations.  The Secretary-General added that AIDS will challenge Asia for years to come.  But if we invest early enough and judiciously enough, we can achieve an effective response.  We have his full remarks upstairs.

**Bird Flu

A new study finds that outbreaks of avian flu in South-East Asia, rather than being linked with the number of chickens, are actually associated with the number of ducks and people, as well as the extent of rice cultivation.  The newly published study involved experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  It looked at conditions in Thailand and Viet Nam, but the link could also explain persistent outbreaks in other South-East Asian nations.  We have more information on this upstairs.

**Capital Master Plan

On the Capital Master Plan, the United Nations has signed a six-year lease agreement so that we can occupy 460,000 square feet of office space at 380 Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan.  That will provide temporary space for the majority of UN staff members who will be relocated during the upcoming renovation of UN Headquarters under the Capital Master Plan.  The United Nations will begin work on the first construction phase of the Capital Master Plan for a temporary conference building on the North Lawn in early May.

**Human Rights Event

This month’s instalment in the New Human Rights Dialogue Series will take place today from 3 to 6 this afternoon in Conference Room 1.  The title of today’s discussion is, “What would Martin Say?  Human Rights and the Global Struggle against Racism Forty Years after the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.”  The series is co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Department of Public Information and the NGO Committee on Human Rights as part of a year-long celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And we have more on this also upstairs.

**Press Conferences

And press conferences today and tomorrow, at 1:15 in this room, the Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2008 will be launched by the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Jomo Kwame Sundaram.  He will be accompanied by Robert Voss, Director of DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division.  Note that this press conference will be embargoed until 1 a.m. New York time on 27 March.

Tomorrow at 12:30, UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel will brief you on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  He will be my guest at the noon briefing.  And tomorrow at 3 p.m. an event on futures research methodologies is taking place in Conference Room E.  It’s organized by the World Federation of UN Associations and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

This is all I have for you today.  Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Michèle, did the Iranian Foreign Minister send a letter to Mr. Ban about the recent round of nuclear sanctions, and also, did Mr. Ban have anything with the Iranian Ambassador last night?

Spokesperson:  I will check for you on both.

[The Spokesperson later confirmed that the Secretary-General met yesterday evening with the Permanent Representative of Iran, who transmitted to him a letter from the Iranian Foreign Minister concerning the latest Security Council resolution and the scope of cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  The Permanent Representative also assured the Secretary-General that Iran would cooperate with the IAEA.]

Question:  Michèle, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Gilani, has said that he will seek a United Nations investigation of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.  Has any such request arrived yet?

Spokesperson:  This morning the Secretary-General spoke with the Prime Minister on the phone and they did talk about the investigation.  The Prime Minister, of course, raised the issue.  The Secretary-General said what we have been saying here, that the UN cannot do anything unless we received a formal request from the Government.

Question:  That request has not been received yet?

Spokesperson:  Not yet, no.  Because, from the conversation this morning, there will be first an act of Parliament on the issue in Pakistan.

Question:  Michèle, about this upsurge of violence in Iraq, has the Secretary-General’s Special Representative given a report as yet?

Spokesperson:  Not yet.  We are following the situation very closely.  Every day we get in touch with them but we don’t have a final report yet on the situation, the recent violence in Basra.

Question:  This 380 Madison space, do you know the lease price for how much money’s involved?

Spokesperson:  I think that information was in the last Capital Master Plan briefing.  I don’t know if some of you got the answer, but I know the question was raised.  But you can certainly talk to the person in charge, who can give you further information on the lease.

Question:  On northern Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army talks, some reports say the signing of this peace agreement will be 5 April and some say 3 April.  Does the UN, through Mr. Chissano, know when and if this peace agreement will be signed?

Spokesperson:  We don’t have a confirmation of the exact date.  I do know that Mr. Chissano will be there and the event is being planned.  But I will let you know about the exact date.

Question:  And some people say there’s going to be a request, as part of that agreement, to put on hold the indictment for war crimes of Joseph Kony and the leaders of the LRA in order to get them to sign the agreement.  Does Mr. Chissano play any role in that?  What would the UN say?

Spokesperson:  The UN, or the Secretariat, has absolutely no power over what an international court decides.  This is a matter between the two parties but the UN could not possibly accept, in the name of the international tribunal.  We cannot.  We don’t have the power to do so.

Question:  It wasn’t so much with the ICC.  The request was going to be made by Uganda to the Security Council.  I was wondering if Mr. Chissano is in any way part of that process.

Spokesperson:  We will find out for you as soon as we get also a date and more details on the talks.  I can only confirm it will be held at the beginning of April.

Question:  And then, I may have missed this, but there were reports of a crash in Darfur, of a peacekeeping vehicle hitting a bus and five civilians were killed.

Spokesperson:  Yes, we talked about that yesterday.

Question:  Okay, I have another crash question.  There’s a report from Liberia about a father of a victim, they claim, of an UNMIL crash in November, raising objections about the amount of payment being made.  Does UNMIL acknowledge there were unintentional victims of a crash and if so, how do they pay these things?

Spokesperson:  We can get the details for you on that specific crash.  There is no set policy in general.  I think it’s decided by the missions and we can get more for you from UNMIL.

Question:  One last thing.  On the crash in Darfur, what’s going to be done?  Was the crash the fault of the bus or the UN peacekeeping vehicle and what arrangements are being made?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know yet which conclusions have been taken on the investigation on the crash.  We’re trying to get more details for you on that.

Question:  The briefing tomorrow on the Lebanon tribunal, is that going to be on the record?

Spokesperson:  Yes, it will be.  With Nicolas Michel, you mean.  Yes, it will be on the record.

Question:  Michèle, do you have any other information, besides the UN envoy in Darfur, calling for the release of the kidnapped workers?  Do we know which group the groups have kidnapped?

Spokesperson:  No, we don’t know.

Question:  With relation to this lease at 380 Madison, I saw the handout this morning on that.  That’s a colossal amount of space in a not terribly huge building.  Is that the better part of the building or do you know how many floors it is?  And related to that, may I assume that all the people who are off-site, across the street or down 42nd Street, meaning DC1, DC2, the Daily News Building, 220 East, are they totally unaffected by all this and are they expected to be in the same places or will any of these people be brought back to Headquarters after the renovation?

Spokesperson:  I would suggest you address your questions to the Capital Master Plan.  They have detailed plans on where everybody’s going to go.  There are already plans on who is going to go to the Madison Avenue Building.

Question:  And you do not know how many floors that consists of?

Spokesperson:  No, I do not myself but you can certainly get the question from the Capital Master Plan.

Question:  Couple of questions, one on that talk that Gilani had with the Secretary-General.  If you compare the idea of an investigation to the one in Lebanon, that was a result of a Security Council resolution.  Do you expect the need for that, as well as what you said, the request from the Government?

Spokesperson:  The Secretariat cannot take such a decision.  Once we receive it, we can simply transmit it to the Security Council.  The Security Council is the deciding body.

Question:  Also, in the case of Lebanon, it’s also attached to a tribunal.  That’s also the same situation or is that also Security Council?

Spokesperson:  As I said, we don’t have the request yet, we don’t know exactly they’ll be requesting, and as I said, it’s going to be for the Security Council to discuss.

Question:  And you said before, just now, that they have detailed plans for where everybody goes.  Do you have anything on our fate?

Spokesperson:  You will be located in the Dag Hammarskjöld building, as far as I know.  The Dag Hammarskjöld Library and that area, the library area.

Question:  Do you have a readout on the Secretary-General’s talk with the Pakistani Prime Minister?  Upstairs?

Spokesperson:  No, we don’t, but I can tell you the subject.  He called to congratulate him and that’s when the Prime Minister raised the issue of the investigation, saying that Parliament was going to be taking a resolution on the matter.

Question:  I was talking to the American Ambassador the other day and he said the letter would come to the Security Council and it will decide as to when it proceeds.  Now, the procedure is that the letter comes to the Secretary-General and he gives it to the Security Council?

Spokesperson:  That is the procedure, yes.

Question:  There was a report put out yesterday by Oxfam and some 94 other NGOs in Afghanistan, criticizing donor countries for not having made good on their pledge and also saying that, of the money that is given, some 40 per cent goes back to the donor countries as consultant fees and overhead.  Does the UN either have a comment on the study or, through UNAMA, can it do something to address the issues that have been raised about redevelopment of Afghanistan?

Spokesperson:  These issues have been consistently discussed through the UN Mission there and I think there is great concern about the aid issue.  But I cannot say any more at this point.  There is going to be no comment on that NGO position.

Question:  Is this the kind of issue, though, that the idea of the “super-envoy” that they had with Paddy Ashdown might have addressed, if you can say that?

Spokesperson:  There was never a question of a “super-envoy”.  That was a press myth.  There was going to be an envoy and that envoy is there now.  It is not Paddy Ashdown.  The title “super-envoy” was something that was a media phrase.

Question:  But the powers that the current “non-super-envoy” has, are those the powers that the UN had been proposing, had wanted?  Or was there some limitation?

Spokesperson:  No, this is the same mandate that was being talked about way before, when we were looking for an envoy.

Question:  Okay, one last and this is something a little different and maybe Mr. Ban will have a comment on this.  There was a report yesterday by the British Antarctica Survey, that the Wilkins Ice Shelf is hanging by a thread and may soon fall into the ocean and it’s a big surprise to all kinds of scientists.  Can we assume Mr. Ban is concerned about this ice shelf?

Spokesperson:  He did go to Antarctica and he could actually not land on one of the glaciers because it was so insecure.  There was no way the small plane could land because they were expecting that it would separate from the mainland, if you want to put it this way.  There were cracks in it and cracks don’t allow the plane to land.  So I think the concern is there.  When he went to Antarctica, the Secretary-General spoke over and over again about the reducing size of the glaciers, and that is definitely one of his concerns.

Question:  And he follows these developments?

Spokesperson:  He does.  Thank you all very much.  Janos will speak for the General Assembly and the President.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

That’s correct, I’m speaking for the General Assembly and the President because there is no “super-Spokesperson”.  Good afternoon, good to see you all.  Let me also welcome the students from Columbia University.

**General Assembly President

Let me begin with the President’s programme.  The General Assembly President, Srgjan Kerim, is in Italy on an official visit.  Today his schedule included a meeting with Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, as well as a private meeting with the Pope followed by a meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.  As regards his private meeting with the Pope, the President said that he briefed the Pope on the priority issues of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly in connection with the Pope’s upcoming visit and, according to the President, the Pope said that he was looking forward to his visit to the United Nations.  The Pope will be at the United Nations on 18 April and is expected to address the General Assembly in a formal session.

With Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone, the focus was also on the upcoming papal visit and the priority areas of the current General Assembly session.  For those of you who are not particularly familiar with these five priority areas, let me say and stress them again.  They are climate change, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals, countering terrorism and management reform.  Cardinal Bertone noted that the Holy See supported and followed closely the work of the United Nations in those priority areas and the papal visit was proof of this.  It was also noted that the universal common good that the United Nations promotes was often reflected in the speeches of the Pope.  The role of the Holy See in the United Nations inter-religious dialogue work and in the Alliance of Civilizations initiative was also discussed.

The meeting with Prime Minister Prodi lasted about an hour.  The President thanked the Prime Minister for his country’s support of the United Nations and for Italy’s constructive role in the General Assembly.  He also briefed the Prime Minister on the main activities of the sixty-second session especially as regards climate change-related events and the upcoming MDG thematic debate.  Other topics included the reform of the United Nations, in particular also Security Council reform and management reform.  Both agreed on the need to reform the Security Council and the United Nations in general.  Prime Minister Prodi also made reference to the issue of the moratorium of the death penalty and thanked the President that during the sixty-second session it was possible to adopt this important resolution and noted that it was equally important to safeguard this achievement and build on it.  As regards discussions with Foreign Minister D’Alema, the focus there was mostly on Security Council reform and management reform.

While in Rome, President Kerim also met with the leaders of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.  This included the new Grand Master, Matthew Festing, and the Grand Chancellor, Jean-Pierre Mazery.  The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has been accorded an observer status with the General Assembly in 1994.  The President paid tribute to the work of the Order, especially as regards its work in humanitarian activities and also urged the Order to take part in the upcoming MDG special meeting.  That will be on 1 and 2 April.  After the meeting, the Grand Master conferred upon the President the Order’s highest decoration, which is the Grand Cross special class of the Order “pro merito melitensis”.

From Italy, the President will travel tomorrow to Helsinki and there he has meetings with President Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen and Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö.  President Kerim will also deliver a speech called, “The UN in the era of globalization”, and that will be at a seminar to be held at Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre in Espoo on Friday.  I’ll have all the details on that on Friday when I come and brief you.

**Human Trafficking Thematic Debate

Let me refer to something that happened yesterday, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on the occasion of which the President had a message and in that message he stressed the importance of recognizing the “unspeakable cruelty” that persists today in various modern forms of slavery.  In this regard he drew attention to the need to address the threat posed by human trafficking and he announced -- and this is what I wanted to stress and this is why I made the connection -- that he intends to convene a special meeting of the General Assembly on this topic on 3 June.

**Other Thematic Debate Dates

So, as regards the thematic debates for the sixty-second session, what we have now for sure is that there’s going to be one on the MDGs on 1 and 2 April.  This has been announced.  I’ll have more details on that for you on Friday.  We’ll have one on management reform, which will be on 8 and 9 April, and now this, on human trafficking, as announced on 3 June.  What is still to come and where we don’t have a date announced for you but we have announced that it will happen, is a thematic debate on human security.  There’s also going to be a formal review of the counter-terrorism strategy.  That’ll be in early September.  And as you remember after the climate change event of 11 to 12 February, the General Assembly President announced that he’s going to have two focused meetings on climate change, as regards the needs of the private sector and as regards the needs of vulnerable countries.  We don’t have dates for those either.  But what we have dates for, however, is the HIV/AIDS special review meeting, which is on 10-11 June.

And still, just to make you dizzy as regards dates, you may remember that on 4 March, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the modalities for the high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs, which is slated for 22 September.  So that’s during the sixty-third session, the next session of the GA, just before the general debate kicks off.  The reason why I’m mentioning this is that the President has announced on his website in a letter to Member States that he has appointed two facilitators to help prepare that conference and help prepare the so-called political declaration that is supposed to emanate from that high-level meeting.  The two facilitators are the Permanent Representatives of Netherlands and of the Republic of Angola.

**Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary)

Those of you who are following the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), then you know that it is continuing its meetings.  Today, it had a formal, open meeting, taking up the budgetary and administrative issues related to special political missions.  The Committee will finish this so-called first part of its resumed session on Friday and it will have a second part of the resumed session in May for four weeks.  That’s primarily dedicated, though, to peacekeeping missions.

**Friday

That’s about it and as I mentioned, I will brief you on Friday as regards the Finland visit, as regards the upcoming MDG meeting, and also, if you look at the Journal, you will see that for Friday, there’s an informal, closed session on system-wide coherence.  This is the second one on this issue for this Assembly session.  The first one was on 7 February.  The two facilitators for that are the Permanent Representatives of Tanzania and Ireland.  So they’ll brief on what they have been up to and I’ll see what I can say on that on Friday.  That’s about all I have.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Regarding the Security Council reform, the newest proposal that went to the President, as far as I know, last Thursday, what is his attitude, if I can put it like that?  Does he think the process is on track, as some optimists earlier suggested or expected, or does he think it’s slowed down or more should be done in regard to speeding it up or what?

Spokesperson:  I’ve mentioned already on Monday when I gave you an update on where we stand as regards these various letters that the President’s Office received.  Two of them were received, quite correctly as you mentioned, Thursday afternoon, the one from the Africa Group and the one from the so-called overarching group, which was the letter (with a draft proposal) written by the Ambassador of Cyprus.  Earlier, the Uniting for Consensus group also handed in a letter to the Office of the President.  That was from the Italian Permanent Representative, Ambassador Spatafora.  As I mentioned, the President is looking at the letters, is looking at the proposals, he’s studying them with the other members of his Task Force -- the Permanent Representatives of Bangladesh, Chile and Portugal.  And we’ll take it from there.

Question:  Does the President think that those letters have some synergy or, on the contrary, are somehow like it used to be?  We did have a few groups who were so divergent when the previous G-4 attempts occurred a few years ago, that basically the proposal and the process were killed at the path.  So that’s why I put it that way.

Spokesperson:  I understand the question.  But I can only just say, let’s give the President and the Task Force time to study these proposals, look at them and decide.

Question:  On the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), there’s an article in the Washington Post over the weekend saying that the Secretariat has asked for $1.1 billion in add-ons.  From the GA side, is that the money that’s been requested and if so, is that going to be voted on by this Friday or voted on in May?  When?  Is any additional funding going to be authorized in this March session before it ends with the Committee?

Spokesperson:  I would rather not speculate on that.  As you know, what emanates from that article and what we have been talking about for the past months, is that on the one hand, there was one budget approved at the end of the year, and now what we’re seeing is the Committee looking at additional proposals which relate to additional work and reform issues.  This is what the Member States, within the framework of the Fifth Committee, are discussing on a variety of different levels, meaning informal consultations or open meetings.  I don’t even want to speculate what’s going to happen until Friday, whether any action is going to be taken on any of the issues that have been taken up formally in this session, because not everything has been taken up formally in this session of the Fifth Committee, as obviously you know that.  And we’ll see what happens as regards the resumed session in May, which, as I said, is primarily dedicated to peacekeeping missions.  But if you look at the way the second resumed sessions of the Fifth Committee have been, you will see that they have discussed often other issues, not just peacekeeping missions.  But let’s see.  Let’s find out what happens Friday and then we’ll see what other issues may be taken up by Member States in May and what other issues may be deferred to the sixty-third session.

Question:  Janos, are you privy to the contents of the letter by the Italian Ambassador, the UFC.  What did he say in that letter?

Spokesperson:  Yes, I did read the letter but because in the letter the Ambassador does not authorize the recipient to share this letter, therefore, I’m not at liberty to share its content but you can certainly approach Ambassador Spatafora and ask him whether he’s willing to share the letter with you since he was the sender.  And now it has been confirmed that the President’s Office has received the letter.  We have it.

Question:  You mentioned a special meeting on 22 September.  What was the subject again?

Spokesperson:  Africa’s development needs and as I said, it is timed just before the general debate with the intention of getting high-level representation.  It is, in fact, a high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs.

Question:  So that’s before the general debate but after the beginning of the session, a week or so after the opening?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct.

Correspondent:  It wasn’t clear.  I thought the whole thing, the sixty-third session, was starting a week later.

Spokesperson:  The sixty-third session starts on 16 September.  But the decision on this high-level meeting on Africa was decided already by the sixty-first session, but it was this session, the sixty-second session, on 4 March, that adopted the resolution on the modalities of the meeting.

Question:  The facilitators are the Ambassadors of Angola and what’s the other?

Spokesperson:  Netherlands.

Question:  Did the GA President receive any letters from Cuba and Egypt on xenophobia and racism?

Spokesperson:  Not that I’m aware of, but I’ll certainly double-check if the Office has received anything.

If there are no more questions, then thank you very much for your attention and all the best, and have a great stay, for the students.

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