Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

8 September 2009

Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

8 September 2009
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 Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Enrique Yeves, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

**Guest/Press Conferences Today

We will have a guest here shortly.  Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, will appear in just a little while from now to brief you on the preparations for the upcoming High-level Event on Climate, which is scheduled for 22 September, as well as on other climate change-related developments.

And then at 1:30 p.m. today here in 226 General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann and Heiner Flassbeck from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will launch the 2009 Trade and Development Report.  The Report will provide extended analysis on issues raised in the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development.

And also after I am done, before Mr. Pasztor talks to you, we’ll have a briefing by Enrique Yeves, who is the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.  So that should be shortly.

**Secretary-General’s Statement - Sri Lanka

I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General concerning Sri Lanka.

The Secretary-General strongly regrets the decision of the Sri Lankan Government to expel Mr. James Elder, Spokesman for UNICEF in Sri Lanka.

The Secretary-General expresses his full confidence in the work of the United Nations in Sri Lanka, which includes making public statements when necessary in an effort to save lives and prevent grave humanitarian problems.  The United Nations is working impartially to assist the people of Sri Lanka, and the Government should be supporting and cooperating with its efforts.

The Secretary-General will take up this issue with President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa at the earliest opportunity and will continue to urge him to implement all the commitments made in their joint statement after the Secretary-General’s visit to Sri Lanka in May.  And that statement will be available upstairs.

**Secretary-General in Mexico

The Secretary-General this morning travelled to Mexico City, where he will meet this afternoon with President Felipe Calderón to discuss issues of mutual interest ahead of the upcoming General Assembly.  Those issues will include climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, and human rights.

The Secretary-General will also hold additional meetings this evening with the Ministers of Health, Social Development, Environment and Education.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will speak at the opening of the sixty-second annual Department of Public Information-Non-Governmental Organizations Conference.  The theme of this year’s Conference is “For Peace and Development:  Disarm Now!”

**Secretary-General’s Retreat

Yesterday, the Secretary-General held a one-day retreat with the senior officials in the UN system, which took place in two simultaneous locations, using a video link between New York and Geneva.

In its third year, this retreat is an essential exercise for taking stock, sharing ideas and proposing recommendations for how the United Nations can continue to fulfil our mandate and meet the needs of the people we serve.

A very productive and engaging discussion considered three main topics:  (i) strengthening accountability; (ii) improving communications; and (iii) becoming more effective and efficient.

Participants expressed, on occasion with passion and conviction, their desire to take forward the recommendations found in the detailed background papers and in this statement.  They committed themselves to ensuring that we make concrete progress on these issues, progress on which we can build further.  In so doing, collectively, we can and will continue to build a stronger and more effective Organization.

What you can expect as an outcome of this gathering?  More briefings by more senior officials to explain better the work the United Nations is doing.  The first of these is expected in the form of a briefing shortly on what you can expect during the week of the High-level General Assembly debate.

**Secretary-General Statement - South Sudan

On Saturday, we issued a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on South Sudan.

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the string of attacks and counterattacks in South Sudan and the killing and displacement of innocent civilians.

The Secretary-General calls on all groups to find peaceful means of settling their differences.  He also calls on the Government of South Sudan to redouble its efforts to ensure the protection of civilians and to work with UNMIS and the United Nations Country Team in strengthening security mechanisms, resolving the root causes of the tensions and addressing the humanitarian situation.  Abatement of violence and intertribal reconciliation in the south are vital to the forthcoming elections in 2010 and the subsequent referendum in 2011.

** Afghanistan

Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, today called on the country’s Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission to redouble their efforts to ensure full rigour in their work at every stage, in light of the concerns that have arisen over irregularities over the elections.  This includes excluding from the preliminary count results from ballot boxes where there is evidence of irregularities.

Eide said that the integrity of the elections is of the utmost importance to Afghanistan and to its international partners.  He trusts that the respective Commissions will carry out their mandated work to high standards and will ensure that the final outcome faithfully reflects the will of Afghanistan’s voters.  And we have the statement upstairs.

** Lebanon

The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, today met with the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, and expressed his concern that no agreement had been reached on the formation of a government, more than 10 weeks after the designation of Saad Hariri as Prime Minister-designate.

Williams called on all Lebanese to continue to work towards the goal of a unity government.  “Democracy needs compromise,” he said.  “Lebanon must not return to the old days of polarization and crisis.”  And we have a statement upstairs.

** Yemen

UN humanitarian agencies report that heavy fighting is continuing between Al Houti forces and Government troops in and around Sa’ada city in northern Yemen, with utter disregard for the safety and well-being of the civilian population.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cites estimates that some 150,000 persons are displaced in the Governorates of Sa’ada, Amran, Al Jawf and Hajjah.  This number includes persons displaced by previous rounds of fighting, many of whom have been forced into their second or third displacement.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that most of the displaced are stranded and dangerously exposed to the fighting as they are unable to reach safer areas.  Mines and unexploded ordnance on the roads increase the risks for those trying to flee the area.  There is also a severe fuel shortage, with some reports that there is no electricity in Sa’ada city.

UNHCR is again appealing for a ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian corridors which would allow the civilian population to escape the fighting and enable aid workers to resume deliveries of humanitarian assistance.

According to the World Health Organization’s surveillance system, there has been no outbreak of communicable diseases occurring amongst the [internally displaced persons] and the host community in Amran and Hajjah.  WHO epidemiologists are making plans to establish disease early warning systems in the Hajjaf and Amran Governorates.

**Iran

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), yesterday briefed the Agency’s Board of Governors on its work, and he warned that there is a stalemate regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.  Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities or its work on heavy water-related projects as required by the Security Council, nor has Iran implemented the Additional Protocol, he said.

At the same time, ElBaradei stressed that all of the information made available to the Agency, relevant to Iran’s nuclear programme, has been brought to the attention of the Board of Governors.  He said that he was dismayed by the allegations of some Member States, which have been fed to the media, that information has been withheld from the Board.  These allegations are politically motivated and totally baseless, he said.

ElBaradei also urged Syria to cooperate with the Agency in its verification activities related to the nature of the Dair Alzour site.

** Haiti

In Haiti, Paul Farmer concluded today his first visit to the country as UN Deputy Special Envoy.

According to the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, Farmer’s five-day visit served as a follow-up to Special Envoy Bill Clinton’s July mission.  The main objective was to assess how to best support the Government of Haiti in the implementation of its national recovery plan.

During his trip, the Deputy Special Envoy met with President René Préval and Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, as well as with representatives of the United Nations, NGO leaders, international donors, and members of the private sector.  Farmer said he would support President Clinton and the people of Haiti in the joint effort of creating new jobs, improving the delivery of basic services, strengthening disaster recovery and preparedness, attracting private sector investment and garnering greater international support.  And we have a press release on this upstairs.

And as you know, the Security Council will hold an open debate on Haiti tomorrow afternoon.  That’s scheduled for 4 p.m.

** Colombia

The latest report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Colombia is out on the racks.

In it, the Secretary-General calls on the parties in Colombia to comply without delay with international law and the provisions of the Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict.  He also calls for the implementation of action plans against child recruitment, as well as against sexual abuse perpetrated against children by the illegal armed groups.

The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Colombia to implement, as a matter of priority, measures to eliminate extrajudicial executions of children.

** West Africa Floods

Concerning West Africa, 159 people have been killed and some 600,000 others have been badly affected by heavy rains across West Africa, since June.  This is according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which lists the most affected countries as Sierra Leone, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger.

Damages, from Mauritania to Nigeria, also include the destruction of properties and social infrastructure, including hospitals and roads.

In response to the flooding, the World Food Programme (WFP) has started distributing vital food rations to victims across West Africa.  WFP is launching emergency operations in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania for thousands of people in the worst affected areas.

Josette Sheeran, the WFP Executive Director, said, “People’s lives have been turned upside-down overnight and WFP is moving as swiftly as possible to provide lifesaving food assistance.”

**UNHCR – North Africa

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, arrives in Algiers today for a 5-day visit to Algeria and Morocco, including visits to Western Sahara, and to Saharawi camps in Tindouf, western Algeria.

He will review first-hand the situation in the refugee sites and assess the overall conditions of the refugees, including measures being taken to address the effects of prolonged separation between the refugees and their families in Western Sahara.  This is the first visit by a High Commissioner for Refugees to the regions since 1976.

Guterres will hold meetings with top Government officials in both countries and discuss the issue of refugee protection in North Africa.  Efforts being made by the concerned Governments in building their respective national asylum systems will also be discussed.

** Bhutan Refugees

Also, UNHCR has information that, under one of the largest resettlement programmes by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 20,000 refugees from Bhutan have now left Nepal to begin new lives in third countries.  And we have more details in the UNHCR briefing notes.

**Literacy

Today is International Literacy Day.  Some 776 million adults ‑‑ most of them women ‑‑ have no secure command of the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy, and 75 million children are not in school, notes the Secretary-General in a message to mark this Day.  Yet it wouldn’t take much to change the appalling status quo, he adds.

The Secretary-General stresses that literacy gives people tools with which to improve their livelihoods, participate in community decision-making, gain access to information about health care, and above all, enables individuals to realize their rights as citizens and human beings.  And we have his message upstairs.

**FAO

We have a press release upstairs from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which finds that there are more healthful, nutritious foods in remote tribes in dense tropical forests or frozen polar wastes than in developed countries.  And that’s according to a recent book published by FAO.

**UNCTAD

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) today released a 2009 Report on UNCTAD Assistance to the Palestinian People.  The report highlights the impact of Israeli restrictive measures and the recent devastation in Gaza.  It reflects on the renewed debate over the future of Palestinian-Israeli economic relations and looks at the Palestinian policy framework that would be most conducive to building a sovereign Palestinian State.

And so, we will have after I am done, Enrique Yeves, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly; and the GA President himself Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann will be briefing with Heiner Flassbeck from UNCTAD at 1:30 p.m. And we will have shortly in this room Janos Pasztor, the Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, who will brief you about the event taking place on 22 September.

Anything for me?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you.  Any reaction from the UN on the sentencing of Lubna Hussein, the Sudanese journalist yesterday?

Associate Spokesperson:  We don’t have any particular reaction.  I would refer you to the comments that were made by Rupert Colville, the Spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights who did speak extensively about this in the Geneva press briefing today.  From our standpoint, we have been in contact with the appropriate authorities, and we had urged the Government of Sudan to review procedures to ensure that they are upheld in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement that we have.

Question:  No, that’s not related to the status of force; that’s related to the journalist…

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, yes.

Question:  And the sentence; the month that she’s received for wearing trousers.  Does the UN think this is a fair sentence?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, I would again just echo what Mr. Colville said.  He made the point earlier in Geneva today that arrest and conviction of Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein was a violation of articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a State party; and article 29 of Sudan’s own national Constitution.  Beyond that I’d just refer you to his fuller comments in today’s Geneva press briefing.

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Do you have any comments to Israel yesterday announcing that it is building more homes in the West Bank?

Associate Spokesperson:  In terms of that, we don’t have any new comment on this.  As you know, the Secretary-General remains opposed to any further settlement activity.  We have been on record calling for that to be frozen.  And I would also refer you to the recent communiqués issued by the Quartet as they refer to settlement activity, as well.

Question:  I just want to follow up.  You don’t see any significance of this coming now just two weeks before the General Assembly and all the efforts?  Doesn’t this make it more significant than all the previous regular comments that you make every time?

Associate Spokesperson:  We will continue to try and see that the parties can come together.  And certainly, from our perspective, we’re looking to see whether an arrangement can be made for a meeting of the Quartet in the coming weeks to discuss matters, including this one, further.  But I don’t have anything unique to this particular settlement activity beyond, like I said, our standing call for a freeze on all such activities.

Question: On this voter fraud, allegedly, Afghanistan elections, I just to find out…

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, you might have missed this, but Kai Eide did talk about the need by the respective electoral commissions to deal with this matter.  We have that press release upstairs; I read it already.

Question:  No, I just wanted to ask a question.  If at any point in time they find that there was in fact voter fraud; is there going to be a run-off or is there going to be a new election?

Associate Spokesperson:  As far as that goes, a run-off will only be determined once the final results come out.  That only happens after the electoral process, including the complaints process, has been completed.

Question:  Niger and Sri Lanka.  On Niger, former -- well, I am not sure if he is former -- Mr. [Robert] Fowler has said that he believes that his kidnapping was due to a leak either by the Government of Niger or “by an Al-Qaida sympathizer in the UN office in Niger, or the Secretariat in New York”.  I know that you’ve said, if he has evidence, let him come forward.  I guess my question really here is ‑‑ is Mr. Fowler still a USG and what do you make of a recent UN Under-Secretary-General saying that someone in the UN leaked his name?

Associate Spokesperson:  He didn’t say that.

Question:  Um, he didn’t?

Associate Spokesperson:  Read the article again.

Question:  Okay.

Associate Spokesperson:  He speculated that there are a number of possibilities.  He speculated that someone has leaked his name; he doesn’t know who.  And he says that very clearly in the interview.

Question:  Isn’t that something that he raised to the Secretary-General when…  Has he ever raised it to the Secretary-General when he met with him after his kidnapping?

Associate Spokesperson:  No, we don’t have any information indicating that there was a leak.  Obviously we would appreciate from wherever it comes, any information, if there is such a thing. But at this stage we don’t have any information.

Question:  I gather when he just first got out, there was some, you’d said that he needed to rest and all this stuff.  What has the UN actually concluded all this time after that kidnapping of what he was doing that day?  Was he going, as was reported, to a Canadian-owned gold mine?  Was it in fact a UN trip or not a UN trip?  It seems we’ve never really gotten any kind of what DSS [Department of Safety and Security] learned from him.  What can you say about that?

Associate Spokesperson: Mr. Fowler has been debriefing since he was released.  And so we have received information about his activities.  Certainly, he was going about his regular duties as a Special Envoy.

Question:  Does the SG know that the recent NATO bombing in Afghanistan has led to a rift between Germany and the United States?  Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to that?

Associate Spokesperson:  Regarding that, we had sent a team from the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan to the site, and we will wait to see what results they have before we make any further comment about this particular incident.  As you know, we’re always concerned about civilian casualties wherever they occur.  And we’ve taken this issue up many times with senior military officials in Afghanistan.

Question:  And as regards this rift between Germany and the United States?

Associate Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t have any comment about that.

Question:  Farhan, will the Secretary-General when he meets with the ministers in Mexico this evening ‑‑ is that correct?

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, he’s meeting them this evening.

Question:  Will he be speaking to them about the drug cartels and disarming the Mexicans and the ammunitions that come over the United States border?  Clearly, it seems like an [inaudible] to have a disarmament conference in Mexico without addressing such a factor.

Associate Spokesperson:  We’ll certainly try to get a readout of what they discussed once that’s happened.  I don’t have that in advance.

Question:  I’m sorry I missed what you said at the beginning on Afghanistan, but latest reports indicate that 97 per cent of the ballots have been counted and Hamid Karzai won 54 [per cent].  But there are some who feel that there may be violence.  Is the Secretary-General concerned about possible violence there?

Associate Spokesperson:  Our concern is to make sure that the electoral results faithfully reflect the will of the Afghan voters.  And at the top of this briefing, you may have missed this, but Kai Eide did make some remarks about that, which are available upstairs, about the need for the respective electoral commissions to work rigorously to make sure that the results are faithful to the will of the voters.

Question:  Do you have any comment on the expulsion of UNICEF spokesman James Elder from Sri Lanka?

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, I had a very extensive comment at the start of this briefing.

Question:  I do apologize.

Associate Spokesperson:  Guys, please show up at noon!  But it’s a statement that’s available upstairs.  The full statement is available upstairs.

Question:  On Rodolphe Adada from UNAMID [the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur], the outgoing head of the peacekeeping operation.  He has accepted the Order of the Two Niles from President [Omar al-] Bashir.  Does he need to go to the Secretariat first of all to check whether or not he is allowed to receive the Order?

Associate Spokesperson:  I’ll have to ask about that.

Question:  Do you have any comment regarding the foot-dragging by the elected majority in Lebanon in forming a national unity government?

Associate Spokesperson:  We have a statement from Michael Williams upstairs today about his wish that a national unity government be formed as soon as possible.  He has some fairly extensive comments after meeting Nabih Berri today.

Question:  Are you interested in having a comprehensive, collective government in Lebanon involving everybody?  Is that the point of view of the United Nations?

Associate Spokesperson:  I’d refer you to his full comments.  Part of what he said ‑‑ he wants all Lebanese to work together on this, and he said “Democracy needs compromise.  Lebanon must not return to the old days of polarization and crisis.” And the full statement is upstairs.

Question:  On Sudan, the Government there has said that Rodolphe Adada resigned when the UN refused to renew his contract.  I’d also heard from the Ambassador of Sudan that the UN was also unhappy and wanted to change for someone that would be harsher at the request of the US and Western Powers.  Did the UN offer to renew Mr. Adada’s contract?  Why wasn’t it renewed?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, renewal is a process that takes place not just with the United Nations, but between the United Nations and the African Union on this particular appointment.  Beyond that, the only thing I have to say is, as we pointed out last week, the terms of his secondment had actually ended, and that’s why he is moving on.  And we certainly wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.

Question:  Would you have renewed him?

Associate Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t want to speculate on that.

Question:  Just to follow up a question I asked last week about President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad of Iran.  Did the Protocol receive some confirmation that he is taking part in the GA activities?

Associate Spokesperson:  So far as I know, the last we checked we had not received any confirmation about that.  We’ll certainly check again.  And with that, I’d like to bring Enrique Yeves up here to talk to you.  And then, after, we’ll have with us Janos Pasztor, the Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team.  First, Enrique.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Thank you, Farhan, and good to see you all after this break.  As you know, we’re just back a trip with the President of the General Assembly.  In the last two weeks he has been in Nicaragua, Bolivia and Cuba.

And I would like to give you today an overview of what is going to be the last week of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly.

Starting today, as Farhan said before, we will have a joint press conference at 1:30 p.m. with the President of the General Assembly and Heiner Flassbeck from UNCTAD on the report of UNCTAD.  That basically the main headline, as you know is that it’s very likely that we will not reach the MDG goals due to the financial and economic crisis.  Also today there is going on right now a meeting on the revitalization of the General Assembly.  They are discussing a paper put forward by the two co-facilitators of the President in this exercise; the Ambassadors of Norway and Ecuador.

Then tomorrow we will have the first meeting of the ad hoc working group of the outcome document of the conference.  Basically we will be discussing the follow-up of the conference that we had on the financial crisis.  And also tomorrow we will have a General Assembly plenary meeting on some the items pending on the sixty-third session.

Then on Thursday, we will have a joint press conference by the President of the General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann and Professor Stiglitz upon the release of the full report of the commission of experts that it’s already prepared and ready to be released on Thursday.  So you will have more information on this by Thursday.

And then finally on Monday, as you know, it will be the very last day of this presidency, and President of the General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto will make his final speech, giving an overview and an evaluation of his presidency, and we’ll have the final press conference for you to ask all the questions that you want.

Incidentally, I will introduce also my successor, who is a brilliant journalist from Cameroon, Jean-Victor Nkolo.  He is not here today, but I think either tomorrow or the day after I will be able to introduce him personally to all of you.

And that is basically what I have for you, unless you have any questions that I will be happy to reply.  Mr. Abbadi.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Enrique.  Enrique, the President of the General Assembly is ending his functions early next week.  What has he accomplished insofar as the reforms of the Security Council are concerned, because he was quite optimistic that progress would be achieved during his presidency?

Spokesperson:  In terms of the Security Council reform, as I said, I was away, but last week as you know, Member States conducted the third round of intergovernmental negotiations on the Security Council reform, and in accordance with the work plan of Ambassador Tanin, they took a comprehensive look at all the five key issues remaining, and after which they are going to focus on two potential reform models.  One is the model with an expansion and involves permanent and non-permanent seats; and the other is the intermediate model which features a new category of extended seats.

Ambassador Tanin is going to report this afternoon to the President on where we are on the Security Council reform, and I will give you tomorrow a much more comprehensive and detailed report on this issue.

Question:  Is there any paper available?

Spokesperson:  There is, I understand that the papers put forward by Ambassadors Tanin, they’re both available on line.  So you can check them.  Matthew.

Question:  Two quick questions, one is what [inaudible]…Cuba, Mr. d’Escoto was quoted as saying, or at least the headline on the article is “Reforms of the UN are no longer enough.  The UN has to be refounded.”  Is that something that, I mean, were you there?  Is that what he said, and if so, what does he mean?  Does he mean that there should be a separate organization?  What does this mean?

Spokesperson:  No, I mean, I think he has made it very clear his position during this year, and he believes that simple reforms are not enough, and he believes that refounding of the UN is what is needed right now, a full effort by all the Member States really to make a new organization.  A new organization in the sense of making it much more updated to the twenty-first century.

Question:  A new in the shell of the old?  You’re not talking about…  Is he talking about a new entity, a new legal entity or…?

Spokesperson:  No, he was not referring to new entity in particular, I mean, he was referring that, from his point of view, small reforms ‑‑ like the decisions of the Security Council reform ‑‑ of the GA are not enough for what the world needs in the twenty-first century, and that he believes there should be a major effort by the Member States to really refound the organization, at all levels.  He will be able to give you a more detailed explanation in the coming days and he is going to make this one of his headlines also in his final speech.

Question:  I wanted to ask you a question about Honduras.  I heard from some delegations, I guess, either close to the PGA or within that wall that his interpretation of the GA resolution about Honduras is that this precludes anyone from sending election observers if the current Government holds an election at the time that it was, it would otherwise have been held, there’s the PGA’s interpretation of the resolution that any country that sends observers is violating the resolution.  Is that true?

Spokesperson:  There is no interpretation on that GA resolution.  The GA resolution is very clear.  The international community unanimously ‑‑ the 192 countries ‑‑ a couple of months ago voted recognizing only one Government and one President; the democratically elected President, Zelaya.  At that point there was no mention about the elections or anything like that.  So we’re in a situation right now that the international community is following very close, but the bottom line by the international community and by the UN and the General Assembly, it’s pretty clear.  They’re not going to recognize anybody else than the President democratically, constitutionally elected from Honduras, President Zelaya.  Masood.

Question:  …[inaudible], I mean, I just want to be clear about this, would he be against the UN sending election observers if there were an election held to make sure that it was free and fair or…?

Spokesperson:  There has not been discussion at all on this particular issue at this point in time.  Masood.

Question:  Enrique, in this period of time that he was in these countries in Latin America; was there any headway at all?  I mean, following up on this, I thought you said [inaudible]… return of the President back to Honduras at all?

Spokesperson:  Well, obviously he has been discussing this issue during his trip with all the leaders and he has been talking about the situation in Honduras, especially being in Latin America and Central America in this particular case, and the Caribbean.  All the leaders are very worried ‑‑ as the international community in general ‑‑ that this stalemate of the political situation is a deadlock which is not helping the current situation and the will of the people who elected President Zelaya in Honduras.  In other words, yes, everybody is following the situation very close and very worried about what is going on.

Question:  So how would you term these talks and negotiations that are taking place between all these leaders?  Are they at a stalemate or are they making progress?

Spokesperson:  Well, now the situation is very clear ‑‑ there is a stalemate.  The international community has rejected the coup d’état; they don’t recognize ‑‑ nobody is recognizing ‑‑ the de facto Government, and the de facto Government has not been listening to any of the proposals or taken action on any of the proposals that were discussed not only by the General Assembly, but also by the Organization of American States, etc., and the mediation of President Arias of Costa Rica where they had reached an agreement and has not been followed either by anybody in Tegucigalpa.  George.

Question:  Could you just clarify for me; you were announcing this just as I came in.  President d’Escoto was going to speak to us when?  Today or tomorrow?

Spokesperson:  Well, he’s going to be meeting you in several days.  Today briefly he will hold a joint press conference with UNCTAD where there is going to be launched the new report of UNCTAD on the impact of the financial crisis.  [interrupted by phone ringing]  Shall I reply to you when you finish the phone call?  Okay, I will do that then.  Any more questions?  Mr. Abbadi.

Question:  Enrique…

Spokesperson:  Is your phone on? [laughter]

Question:  Mine is off.

Spokesperson:  Good.

Question:  What advice or recommendation is President d’Escoto making to the forthcoming President?  Has he been meeting with him on that subject?

Spokesperson:  Yes, he has met with him on several issues and several occasions.  As you know, they’re good old friends.  They know each other from a long time, and President d’Escoto has been briefing him on all the issues that they need to follow up.  But, obviously now it is up to the new President to see what are his priorities.  But, there has been a very good exchange of information with not only the President, but also the transition team working together, because as you know, this is an ongoing work in the General Assembly.  It is not that you finish one day, one year after the other, and there are many issues that are still pending and they’re working together.

Question:  Did he make any recommendations in writing?

Spokesperson:  Not in writing, that I am aware of.  But, you don’t need to put it in writing when you have a very good dialogue and communication with the person you’re dealing with.  So, they have met on several occasions, not only here in New York, but also back in Libya when the President visited them.

No more questions?  Very good.  Farhan, it is your turn.

* *** *

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