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

15 December 2008

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

15 December 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 Enrique Yeves, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, all.

**Guest at Noon Today

The guest at the noon briefing today, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, will brief on her recent trip to Nepal and the Philippines.

** Middle East

The Secretary-General will be hosting a meeting of the Middle East Quartet in his conference room at three in the afternoon today, here at Headquarters.

Attending will be United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, European UnionHigh Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.  As of now, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on behalf of the EU Presidency, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair are scheduled to participate by video-link.

Following the meeting, at 4 p.m., there will be a press conference featuring the principals in Conference Room 4.

And after that, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., in Conference Room 8, the Secretary-General will meet with Quartet members and a number of Arab Foreign Ministers.

There will be a stakeout set up outside that room in case any of the delegates wish to speak to you after the discussion.

** Gaza

Meanwhile, also on the Middle East, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that the Gaza power plant, which supplies a portion of the territory's needs, has been turned off by the company in charge there.  The decision was taken following the closure of all goods crossings yesterday.  The company in charge says it made the move to avoid damage that might occur due to frequent switchings on and off, as a result of unreliable supply routes.

A series of rolling blackouts has been occurring throughout the Gaza Strip since yesterday evening -- ranging from 12 hours a day in some areas to 4 hours a day in others.

UNSCO also reports that 81 truckloads of materials did pass from Israel into Gaza today, including 20 truckloads for humanitarian aid agencies.  Those contained flour, milk, medicine, and other items for UN agencies and others.

In related news, imams and rabbis from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as many other countries, are currently meeting at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to launch new initiatives to help build peace in the Middle East.  We have more on that upstairs.

**Secretary-General Statement on Food Task Force

We have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the sixth meeting of his High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis:

The United Nations Secretary General chaired the sixth meeting of his High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis on the morning of December 15th 2008 in New York.

The Task Force agreed on its programme of work for 2009, with a focus on reducing hunger, promoting food security and intensifying small-scale agriculture in countries that need –- and request -– assistance.  The Secretary-General also announced that he has agreed with Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain to co-chair a high-level meeting on “Food Security for All” in Madrid on 26-27 January 2009 to gather governments, private entities and civil society groups and examine progress on improvements in food security, define a road map for the future and tackle hunger more effectively.  

The Secretary-General also welcomed the follow-up to the proposals made by several heads of government at the "High-Level Conference on World Food Security" in Rome last June to establish a global partnership for agriculture and food security.  He acknowledged the contribution of the G8, under the presidency of the Government of Japan, to support the evolution of this partnership. 

The Secretary-General announced that, given the high demands on John Holmes in his role as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, he has asked David Nabarro to assume the role of Task Force Coordinator as of 1 January 2009.  The Principal Hub for the Coordination Secretariat will be in Rome, within the premises of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  Dr. Nabarro will also continue in his role as Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza.

**Security Council

The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council in a private meeting at 2 this afternoon on peace and security in Africa.  He will discuss the latest developments in Zimbabwe.

The Council this morning heard briefings from the chairmen of its subsidiary bodies.  Then, later this afternoon, it intends to hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On Saturday, the Security Council held consultations during which Council members received a draft resolution on the Middle East.  The Council expects to consider that draft resolution in a formal meeting tomorrow.

** Zimbabwe

We mentioned that the Secretary-General will be briefing on Zimbabwe to the Security Council this afternoon.

In the meantime, we have a humanitarian update on the cholera outbreak in that country. The number of suspected cholera cases has risen above 18,000 (18,413) with 978 deaths reported.

The cholera outbreak is now affecting nine out of ten provinces in the country and spilling across borders into South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique.  However, 50 per cent of the cases are in one suburb of Harare and a further 26 per cent in a town on the border with South Africa.

The death rate in Zimbabwe at this point is 5.3 per cent of all cases, which WHO characterizes as high.  For the epidemic to be considered under control, the death rate had to be under 1 per cent. The main problems are the lack of adequate clean water, exacerbated by recent interruptions in the supply, overcrowding, and lack of capacity to dispose of solid waste and repair sewage blockages in most areas.

A comprehensive cholera response operation plan has been drawn up by the World Health Organization and WHO is in the process of procuring and distributing emergency stocks of supplies to run the centres. The government has accepted the plan and has also declared a state of emergency.

** Somalia

The UN Political Office on Somalia (UNPOS) has confirmed that the International Contact Group on Somalia will meet here at UN Headquarters tomorrow, 16 December.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said that US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is expected to attend the meeting along with other ministerial-level officials.  He says that the meeting will cover the political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia, including political cooperation, human rights, piracy and reconstruction, and development.

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, has thanked the European Union for providing naval escorts against piracy for its humanitarian cargoes.  The first of the escorted WFP ships is already en route to Somalia with enough food aid to assist some 50,000 people a month.  The EU force will provide escort vessels to WFP for up to a year.

Somalia’s humanitarian situation has worsened in the later half of 2008 with more than 3 million people in dire need of assistance.  WFP this year alone shipped to Somalia 260,000 tons of food, already three times what it shipped in 2007 and eight times its 2005 shipments. 

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

Francis Deng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, has returned from a 12-day mission to the Great Lakes region.  In the Dominican Republic Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, Deng met with United Nations and Government officials, civil society, the clergy and victims of large-scale human rights violations.  Members of his delegation also travelled to Burundi for similar meetings, while Deng himself met with leaders of some of the largest armed groups in eastern DRC.  He says his office is assessing whether the continued violence and massive human rights abuses in North Kivu could amount to violations of the Genocide Convention.

The UN Mission (MONUC), meanwhile, says that more than 90 per cent of UN peacekeepers in the DRC are now deployed across the restive north-eastern provinces.  The security situation in those provinces is now calm as some 6,200 UN troops patrol North Kivu, with 1,000 troops in Goma alone.  Another 3,500 peacekeepers are dispersed across South Kivu, while 3,800 patrol Ituri.  The remaining troops are working in the rest of country, including Kinshasa.

** Afghanistan

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, over the weekend strongly condemned an attack where a young boy was allegedly used as a suicide bomber against British forces in the province of Helmand.  He said that the killing of three marines by a 13-year old boy again demonstrates the Taliban's total disrespect for human rights.

Such unscrupulous use of children cannot be justified under any circumstances, Eide said.  The Taliban and all others who use children in warfare must cease doing so, and the rights of children in Afghanistan must be fully protected.

**Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group concluded its third session in Geneva today.

During this session, it reviewed the fulfilment of human rights obligations of 16 States. The Working Group’s next session will take place from 2 to 13 February 2009.

**Deputy Secretary-General on Millennium Development Goals

The Deputy Secretary-General this morning addressed the General Assembly during which she said that the global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has been inspiring. But she urges Member States to not go back on the promises made. 

“This is a time to come together,” she said.  “We should use every opportunity in 2009 to ensure that these trying times do not distract us from our commonly shared goals, particularly the goal of pursuing peace and prosperity for all.” Copies of her statement are available upstairs.

** Myanmar

A comprehensive field assessment endorsed today by the Tripartite Core Group on Myanmar shows that relief assistance to the Cyclone Nargis-affected people continues to be urgently needed, even as recovery efforts have commenced.

The “Periodic Review” is an overview of the humanitarian relief and early recovery efforts in the Cyclone-affected areas, while also producing sectoral data for use in the planning of continued assistance.

**FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization warns that potato production in the developing world could falter as the global economic slowdown reduces investment, trade and farmers' access to credit.

The threat comes at a time when potatoes have become an important staple food and a lucrative cash crop in many developing countries.  Drawing on the most recent FAO statistics, the report shows that potato is the world's number one non-cereal food crop, with total production at a record 325 million tons in 2007, most of it harvested in developing countries.

**United Nations Population Fund Event Today

Some announcements.  Today, from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 7, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) will hold a panel discussion to launch a publication entitled, “UNFPA at Work:  Six Human Rights Case Studies.”  Panellists will include UNFPA’s Executive Director Thoraya Obaid and Elsa Stamatopoulou, Chief of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We have more information on this event upstairs.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 11 a.m., Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa, will hold a year-end press conference wrapping up South Africa’s current membership in the Security Council. 

**Concert Tickets

And just an announcement:  Concert tickets for Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra can be picked up today from MALU office, Room S-250.

And that’s all I have for you today, thank you.  Yes, Masood.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Michèle, over the weekend, the Pakistani Government wrote to say that... but before I go, about this briefing by this Security Council Al-Qaida Committee.  When will that take place?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know.  I can get some information from the Security Council.

Question:  Because this is the question relating to that one of the entity or person put on the list of people to be proscribed or to be put on terror watch list.  He is already dead.  He is dead ten years ago.  So, why was he put on that list?  So we have to find that out and obviously you will tell me that I have to ask them, right?

Spokesperson:  Yes, obviously.  Anyway, all the meetings of the Security Council on any issue are announced in advance.  So you have a copy of the meetings schedule.

Question:  Michèle, the other thing is, today Israel released about 224 Palestinian prisoners.  I think you’re aware of that report.  Do you have any figures as to how many prisoners are still in Israeli jails?  Last report there about 12,000.

Spokesperson:  I don’t have that information.

Question:  You don’t have a figure?

Spokesperson:  No, we don’t have that information.

Question:  And there is one more question about this Palestinian thing which is happening, you had said the Secretary-General looks forward for this process to continue.  But this Middle East peace process, we’re talking about the Quartet.  Most people think that this process, Quartet has given Israel (inaudible) to expand while Palestinian rights have been denied.  What does the Secretary-General have to say to that?

Spokesperson:  Well, obviously he disagrees.  He thinks that the Quartet has a mission to accomplish and the Quartet is doing it.  And I think you should wait for this afternoon.  There is, as you know, a press conference on the Quartet this afternoon, and you could ask your question at that time.  I can tell you we also have a list of the people participating, if you are interested, and we have it available upstairs.

Question:  There are these reports that the governments of three countries have bombed the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including South Sudan.  Can you, what’s the UN’s understanding of which countries have participated in this bombing?  Have complaints been lodged with Mr. Chissano, and what was the UN’s involvement in deciding to try to resolve the conflict in this way?

Spokesperson:  MONUC, as far as the contacts we had with them this morning, has not been involved in the planning and implementation of these joint operations.  The Mission has been supporting, however, the FARDC with logistics, such as transport, water and food, for the containment operation which the FARDC was conducting prior to this new operation by the regional forces.  And MONUC has also helped consolidate and widen the airfield at Dungu, which serves as operational bridgehead for the FARDC and Ugandan troops.  That’s really all I can say at this point.

Question:  Does Mr. Chissano think this is helpful to end the conflict or will only escalate it?

Spokesperson:  Well, we’re hoping to get Mr. Chissano to talk to you when he comes out of the Security Council on Wednesday.

Question:  The elections in Turkmenistan were held, I guess on fourteenth.  I know you’ve been asked about this.  Apparently three UN observers were sent?  I don’t know if the UN has any comment on whether (inaudible) thinks these elections where 90 per cent of the candidates were from one party were free and fair?

Spokesperson:  We don’t have the report yet on the mission.  We’ve talked about it, and said last week indeed, that there was that mission going there.  I wouldn’t call them an observer mission; they were not there to observe the results of the election.  They were there to watch the process,  not really to monitor. There were not enough of them to actually monitor poll stations and things of that sort. 

Question:  Are they going to say anything?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know, but I can find out for you. [The Spokesperson later added that, in response to a request from the Government of Turkmenistan, the United Nations deployed a small technical assessment mission with a view to report to the Secretary-General on the parliamentary elections on 14 December 2008.  It was not there to observe the elections, not will it be making public statements on the conduct of the electoral process.]

Question:  Last week the Security Council sanctioned the (inaudible) in Pakistan.  Over the weekend the Pakistani Foreign Minister said that the charitable organizations won’t be closed down.  Do you see this as a sign of Pakistan not cooperating with the international community in trying, responding to the Security Council’s decisions?

Spokesperson:  I cannot second-guess the Pakistanis’ intentions or what their opinion is.  So, I cannot answer your question, really.

Question:  Since Pakistan has signed, is a signatory to the UN Charter, are you going to be following up on the ground that the Security Council ban is followed up by the Pakistan Government?

Spokesperson:  The Security Council, I’m sure, will do so.

Question:  Do you have more details?  Are you sending a team...?

Spokesperson:  No.  It’s going to be a Security Council decision, not the Secretariat’s decision.

Question:  I was wondering, Michèle, if you have any comments to the decision of the Israeli authorities.  They denied an entry visa to the human rights UN investigator to enter the country.  And also on Darfur, do you have any updates on the situation in Darfur?  You know, last week hundreds of civilians were killed in acts of violence.  Over 250 people were killed, so if you have an update and if there is any investigation you’re going to...

Spokesperson:  I’ll try to.  We already talked about that situation last week, but we don’t have anything new on it. About the 250 people you’re mentioning, we can get an update for you.  As far as I know, they’re still investigating on the ground.

Question:  And regarding Mr. Falk?

Spokesperson: On Mr. Falk, we got the facts cleared this morning.  Apparently the day before yesterday, on the 13 December, Mr. Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights, travelled on an official mission to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

Mr. Falk was denied entry to Israel at Ben Gurion Airport. He was detained for several hours and expelled the following morning.  He was separated from his accompanying UN staff.

The Special Rapporteur, I would like to underline, is duly mandated by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the oPt, and the Israeli authorities were notified of his planned visit as per usual practice.

The Secretary-General regrets that Mr. Falk was denied entry and urges the Israeli authorities to fully cooperate with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. And that’s what I have for you on Richard Falk.  Yes?

Question:  Michèle, all these violations of human rights, including the collective punishment of Gaza, don’t they, I mean merit any consideration by the ICC?

Spokesperson:  Well, this is something for the ICC to consider.  I cannot really talk for the ICC. Yes?

Question:  On Somalia, is there yet a UN response to the President of Somalia purporting to fire the Prime Minister?  And also there is also a report of an Indian (inaudible) having captured 23 pirates, but being unclear where to take them.  Who is going to resolve that?  I know there is the Security Council...

Spokesperson:  The Security Council is going to discuss this matter tomorrow.  So, you’ll just have to wait.

Question:  But I mean, the 23 that have been captured, and the Indian ship is saying unless it knows where to discharge them it’s going to head back to India with the pirates aboard.

Spokesperson:  Well, it’s a matter that I cannot say anything about.  The Security Council is examining the situation, so it’s going to be discussed tomorrow.

Question:  What about the President and the Prime Minister?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have any comments on that. Yes, Masood.

Question:  Michèle, a follow up on the (inaudible)... I mean, if Indians, or Pakistanis or Americans, whoever captured these pirates, do they do it under any particular United Nations mandate or do they do it on their own?

Spokesperson:  The whole issue of piracy is being discussed by the Security Council, and let’s wait on that.

Question:  Yes, yes, but there is no mandate as yet.  I just wanted to make it clear.

Spokesperson:  No.  Let’s wait until the Security Council makes a decision on that; shall we?

Question:  I understand that.  I am just saying, at least asking for a technical explanation, if you’ll enlighten me, if there is no mandate by the Security Council, these pirates or whoever is apprehended by whomever country, are they then governed by international maritime law, or the United Nations resolves the issue?

Spokesperson:  This is not yet clear.  It is not a clear situation yet, and I think it’s still being, as I said, discussed.  So, I don’t have an answer yet for you.  But I am sure that this is one question in international law that is being asked about.  I’ll see whether there is an answer on the side of our own Legal Department.  But at this point, I don’t have anything.

Question:  Has Pakistan brought to the UN’s attention, or to the Secretary-General, reports that Indian planes violated Pakistan airspace?  Has that been brought to your attention?

Spokesperson:  Not specifically, no.  Okay, thank you.  Enrique and then we have our guest waiting for us.  Please, Enrique.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon to everybody.

**Statement Attributable to Spokesperson for President of General Assembly

The President of the General Assembly is very concerned about a series of recent developments that are not helpful or conducive for the climate of international harmony that he is trying to promote.

There have been several stories in the media saying that the General Assembly President tried to prevent the Permanent Representative of Israel from speaking on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This is a malicious and absolute lie that could best be characterized as “slander”, and in any court of law, this is a criminal act.

Information from the media attributes senior diplomatic officials in the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations as the source for this irresponsible accusation.

Similarly, the Office of the President notes that very serious threats have appeared on the Internet against the life of the President of the General Assembly.  This matter is being looked into by the pertinent authorities.

This morning, we have also learned about the arbitrary detention of Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Professor Falk was denied entry to Israel when he arrived at Tel Aviv airport with staff members from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on an official visit to carry out his mandate.  He was attempting to carry out the obligations of his United Nations mandate, investigating the human rights violations affecting the protected civilian population of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  Most urgently, he intended to investigate the rising humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip resulting from the siege of Gaza’s 1.5 million population, imposed by the occupying Power.

Professor Falk was detained at the airport, and other than two brief urgent telephone messages to the United States, has been held almost incommunicado for at least 30 hours.  We believe that the Professor Falk has now been put on a flight back to the United States.

Such action by a Member State of the United Nations reflects a dangerous decision by individual countries to rebuff UN mandates and UN-appointed mandate holders.

This again is not conducive to the good climate that the President of the General Assembly is trying to promote.  This afternoon the President will meet with the Permanent Representative of Israel to discuss this and other issues.

And this is all I have for you today, unless you have any particular questions.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes, is the President there linking these death threats to the same argument he’s having with Israel or is this something quite different?

Spokesperson:  No, not necessarily.  He is saying certainly this climate doesn’t help, and he’s taking very seriously the threats against his life that have appeared on some pages on the Internet.

Question:  And did he ask for the meeting with the Israeli Representative?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct.  He wanted to clarify, precisely, his position on this affair.

Question:  I may have missed the beginning of that.  What statement is he saying is a criminal act or is libellous, or is there a crime?  Is it the publication of a quote that he thinks is false?

Spokesperson:  Correct.  He is saying that some of the declarations that have appeared in the media quoting some senior officials from the Israeli Embassy, including the Ambassador, are totally a lie because they were saying that the President of the General Assembly tried to prevent the speech of the Permanent Representative of Israel during the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary, and he said that, very clearly, that it is totally untrue.

Question:  Is he saying a media report that he says is untrue is a crime?  I’m just trying to understand his statement.

Spokesperson:  No, no.  He’s saying that it is not true that he tried to prevent the Permanent Representative of Israel to speak at the General Assembly, and he said that in a normal situation, that would be considered a criminal act; that’s what I am saying.

Question:  Isn’t that silly, I mean…?  (Inaudible) more than clear.  Maybe you could ask him if he thinks that criminal law should deal with media reporting… (interrupted).

Spokesperson:  No.  He said that to give a comparison.  Masood?

Question:  Enrique, can you please tell us when did the first threat come to the President of the General Assembly, and did you contact the FBI, or Secret Service, or the United Nations’ so-called service to report it?  What really happened?

Spokesperson:  The President of the General Assembly’s Office found out about these threats four days ago on the Internet and informed, immediately, the UN security here at Headquarters, and it is our understanding that the host country authorities have also been informed.

Question:  Just a follow-up.  Can you tell us, what are the thoughts of the President about who is behind these threats of death you’ve received?

Spokesperson:  There is no way to know that; there is no way.  They are, as I said, very serious threats against his life, and he’s taking it very seriously.  And also the security staff at the UN is taking it very seriously.

Question:  Can you name the websites that showed the threats against the President?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have it with me, but I am going to check with security whether this is the proper thing to do, and I will come back to you on this issue.

Question:  But to your understanding, are they reliable sites or just bloggers?

Spokesperson:  I am not a security expert.  As I said, we take very seriously those threats.  We have passed them to the security at the UN.  The security at the UN takes it very seriously, and it is our understanding that the host country has been informed as well.

Question:  (Inaudible) advised to take extra or additional security measures after receiving these threats or…?

Spokesperson:  There are already some extra security measures being taken.

Question:  Enrique, was any e-mail addressed directly to the President of the GA?

Spokesperson:  There were threats on the Internet in some blogs, in English.  George?

Question:  You mentioned that these media reports -- I’ll get to the threats in a moment -- media reports quoted senior officials at the Mission of Israel, including the Ambassador, Permanent Representative Shalev.  Can you give us an idea on where these things were published; I mean other than the threat situation, where they were published?  As far as I know the only Jewish organization that has made an issue of this is the World Jewish Congress, and they made a peaceful protest, they objected, it wasn’t about that, it was about the Palestinian anniversary commemoration and his remarks thereof.  In addition to which, I believe the bottom line is Ambassador Shalev was permitted to speak on Human Rights Day observance, and there was no effort to keep her from speaking.  Surely they don’t believe that Ambassador Shalev or any of her senior people are really responsible for this?  Where have these things appeared?  And I would also like to be told that, in addition to my colleague here, I would also like to be told so I can take a look at them, where these so-called threats appeared.

Spokesperson:  Okay, in terms of the Israeli media, it appeared in several newspapers in the Israeli media.  One that I can remember now is in Haaretz, one senior official from the Israeli Mission in New York made this declaration, and the following day in the Jerusalem Post, the Permanent Representative of Israel made the same accusation saying that the President of the General Assembly tried to block the possibility of Israel speaking at the General Assembly.  And again, the President of the General Assembly takes this very seriously.  He’s never going to try to prevent anybody -- any Member country -- from speaking in the General Assembly, and he wants to make this very clear.  And as it happens, all the regional groups spoke the other day during the ceremony.

Question:  Enrique, I got a response from you personally that same day that the President denies this accusation, and you told me that the Permanent Representative of Israel spoke on the same day.  And, now do you connect these threats with this incident directly?  Did you contact Israeli authorities about this?

Spokesperson:  Not necessarily, and the President of the General Assembly wants to make it very clear that he is not linking both things.  However, he believes that these kind of false accusations, under this climate, don’t help.  It doesn’t help.  If there are no other questions…  Yes?

Question:  Earlier today, the President of the General Assembly had a sort of heated discussion with Alejandro Wolff, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States in front of the Security Council.  I know you were present; did it have anything to do with this?  Can you clarify in any way?

Spokesperson:  It was not heated; I was present.  It was a very friendly discussion with Ambassador Wolff, and they were talking about, among other things, this issue.  The President of the General Assembly was explaining to him what he believes is a mistake in perception by the Permanent Representative of Israel on his role as a President of the General Assembly, and he was trying to [...] But, again it was not heated.  On the contrary, it was a very friendly discussion.

Question:  Okay.  I just wanted to nail this one thing down.  This is the Jerusalem Post, and it quotes the Ambassador of Israel as saying “telling the Jerusalem Post late Thursday, she believes Mr. d’Escoto Brockmann broke with tradition and initially decided to limit speeches by regional representatives after learning that Israel would represent Western Europe at the podium…”  Is that what you’re saying is a crime?

Spokesperson:  I am saying that this is totally untrue.

Question:  Okay.  Which is different from crime…?

Spokesperson:  I am saying that the President of the General Assembly is saying this is totally untrue.

Question:  Can we have a copy of the initial remarks you have just read or are they on the Internet?

Spokesperson:  I will facilitate those remarks for you in a note.  It’s a note from the President of the General Assembly.

Question:  Yes, it’s very important.  Do you have them now?

Spokesperson:  I have one.  I will pass it on to you, if you will give it back to me.  Thank very much, and sorry to keep you waiting.

Question:  Thank you so much, Enrique.

* *** *

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