|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon. I know that a number of you have been occupied with Iran, but thank you, those of you who could show up.
**Secretary-General on HIV/AIDS
The General Assembly is today holding a plenary meeting to review progress in fighting HIV/AIDS.
Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General told the Assembly that since 2001, global rates of new HIV infections have decreased by 17 per cent and more than 4 million people in low- and middle-income countries have gained access to antiretroviral therapy. However, much more needs to be done, and while the cost of taking action may be great, the cost of inaction will be even greater.
We have copies of his statement available from the Spokesperson’s Office and we are please also to have as our guest today the Executive Director of the UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, to speak with you about today’s General Assembly meeting, as well as the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Thank you very much for coming.
[Press conference by Mr. Sidibé issued separately.]
And I have just a few additional notes following the appearance by our guest.
**Security Council on Iran
As you are aware, the Security Council this morning adopted a resolution increasing sanctions on Iran, by a vote of 12 in favour, 2 against, which were Brazil and Turkey, and 1 abstention, which was Lebanon.
In the resolution, the Council affirms that Iran has so far failed to meet the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors.
The Council decides that all States shall prevent the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems. Among other things, it also asks States to take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer to Iran of technology or technical assistance related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. We do expect to have a statement by the Secretary-General later this afternoon in response to the Security Council’s action.
**Iran — International Atomic Energy Agency
Also on Iran, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, today informed the Board of Governors that he had received letters from the Governments of France, the Russian Federation and the United States concerning the provision of nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.
The letters were in response to Iran's 24 May letter officially agreeing to the Joint Declaration signed in Tehran last month by the Governments of Iran, Brazil and Turkey. Attached to each of the letters was an identical paper entitled “Concerns about the Joint Declaration Conveyed by Iran to the IAEA”.
The letters and the paper have been conveyed to the Government of Iran through Iran's Resident Representative to the IAEA. Amano said that he will continue to use his good offices to follow up on this new development with the concerned Governments.
**Secretary-General in Burundi
The Secretary-General has been spending the day in Bujumbura on an official visit to Burundi. He has just met the President, Pierre Nkurunziza, and is speaking to the media there, right about now. He will fly to Cameroon later in the evening.
He also met a wide range of national actors from parliament, civil society, women's groups, religious life and the media. The Secretary-General congratulated Burundians for their achievements in consolidating peace, adding that the people of Burundi are clearly determined to move beyond the turbulence of recent years. He said the current round of elections was one example of that.
He also visited a Burundian battalion to recognize Burundi’s important contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, and to pay tribute to those who lost their lives there.
On arriving in Burundi early on Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General was briefed by the United Nations country team and mission leaders. And he also took part in a town hall meeting with UN staff.
The Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, arrived today in Singapore for consultations with the Singaporean authorities in his capacity as Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar.
Mr. Nambiar is scheduled to visit Beijing on Friday for further consultations with the Chinese authorities. This follows consultations yesterday in New Delhi with the Indian authorities. In New Delhi, Mr. Nambiar met with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon. Mr. Nambiar’s consultations are undertaken in the context of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate on Myanmar.
We put out a statement last night in which the Secretary-General welcomed the recent agreement signed by Eritrea and Djibouti, under the auspices of Qatar, to resolve through a negotiated settlement the border conflict between the two countries which erupted in March 2008.
The Secretary-General expresses his deep appreciation for the mediation efforts of the Emir of Qatar. The agreement entrusts Qatar with establishing a mechanism for the resolution of the border dispute and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The Secretary-General is encouraged by this positive development, which he believes will contribute to long-term peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.
**Millennium Development Goals
Speaking in Madrid today, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, said that advancing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)will be an important milestone in our quest for a more just and peaceful world. Clark made her remarks at an MDG conference hosted by the Spanish Government, and you can find copies of those at the UNDP website.
Regarding the World Cup, UNICEF has congratulated the South African tourism and hospitality industry for its commitment to work to end child sex tourism. This follows the signing by industry leaders of a Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct, which seeks greater protection for children during the World Cup games. And UNICEF hopes that it will leave an enduring legacy of good practice beyond the World Cup itself.
Meanwhile, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will be marking World Day against Child Labour with an urgent appeal to “go for the goal — end child labour”, calling particular attention to the agreed target of eliminating the worst forms of the practice by 2016.
**Press Conferences Tomorrow
For press conferences tomorrow, the guest at the noon briefing will be Ann-Marie Orler, the UN Police Adviser. She will be here to brief you on police peacekeeping activities in Sudan, Haiti, and Guinea-Bissau, and will also update you on the global effort to recruit more women police.
Immediately following the noon briefing, there will be a press conference hosted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) about the 2010 Global Peace Index.
At 2 p.m., the Chairman of the sixth plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Ambassador Franciscos Verros of Greece, will hold a press conference about the work of the contact group.
And then at 3 p.m., Ambassador Pablo Macedo of Mexico, Chairperson-designate of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on Small Arms and Light Weapons (BMS4), will be here to brief you on the upcoming meeting, to be held from 14-18 June in New York, and on various aspects of the small arms issue.
And that’s all I have for today. Questions?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Sure, several questions, Farhan. One is, can you now confirm that Mr. [Roger] Meece has — the Secretary-General has named him to be the new SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] for MONUSCO [the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] in the Congo? So the Council source says.
Associate Spokesperson: I actually should be able to have an announcement shortly. I was hoping to have an announcement concerning the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s not ready yet, but whenever it’s ready, whether later today or tomorrow, I will try to have something. But I don’t have it just yet. [He later announced that Roger Meece of the United States had been named as head of MONUSCO, replacing Alan Doss.]
Question: Several Council members have said the name was submitted under the silence procedure, but what I wanted to ask is, whether on this appointment and on the upcoming appointment of an SRSG for Somalia, the Secretariat in both cases consulted with the host country Government; i.e. the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] in terms of Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in terms of Mr. Meece. Is that the practice?
Associate Spokesperson: The standard practice is to consult with a wide range of countries, including traditionally the country that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative will have to be dealing with. So, in this case it would be the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, yes.
Question: You mentioned Mr. Nambiar as being in Singapore, on a good offices mandate of Myanmar. There is a project there that is of some concern to both the opposition and human rights groups. It’s a Daewoo pipeline, and it’s one that the Secretary-General, when he was the Foreign Minister of [the Republic of] Korea, called a win-win solution for Korea and India. Opposition figures also say that UN officials have met with Daewoo about that project in the military-ran country of Myanmar. I’m wondering, does the Secretary-General — I’m now assuming you can’t say necessarily from the podium — but can you check and see whether the Secretary-General still holds the belief that that pipeline is a win-win solution, and whether the various holders of the good offices mandate, [Ibrahim] Gambari and now Mr. Nambiar, have ever met with Daewoo about the project?
Associate Spokesperson: I also need to check, I don’t have any information about Daewoo.
Question: Okay, if you can check, that would be great.
Associate Spokesperson: I certainly will.
Question: And you heard the head of UNAIDS saying that he’d asked, or had hoped… well, you heard it. I won’t mischaracterise it. Did the Secretary-General raise the issue of Maxim Popov, a UN, essentially, funded AIDS activist who has been sentenced to 7 years while he was in Uzbekistan, and what response did he obtain?
Associate Spokesperson: I’ll check with the people who are part of his travelling delegation. I am not aware that that name came up, but certainly we can check. And with that, I bid you a…
Question: [inaudible] go ahead.
Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, this more a dialogue, anyway, so, we can sort this out than…
Question: [inaudible] where I never got a written answer. Even, for example, on The Three Idiots. I was never sent an answer. So, I’d rather ask the question here…
Associate Spokesperson: I believe you were sent an answer on this about a day or two ago.
Question: Yeah, but I put it in 28 May. Here is my question, about Burundi, since he was in Burundi.
Associate Spokesperson: Once we had an answer we gave it to you. As soon as we had it.
Question: Since he was in Burundi, did he have anything to say about the fact that the upcoming election will have only one presidential candidate, since the opposition has dropped out? I’ve read the speeches, but I haven’t seen… I’ve seen mostly praise. But most people say that democracy has fallen apart, there is only one candidate. Is that acceptable?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, first of all, he’s still in Burundi right now. He will talk to the press whilst there. And he is talking with President Nkurunziza, as I said at the start. So, let’s see what he has to say at the end of the day.
All right, thanks very much.
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