|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 President of the General Assembly
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
**Secretary-General on Kyrgyzstan
I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, which we issued earlier today from Johannesburg:
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports of renewed violence and several deaths in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. He calls for calm to be restored and urges all involved to show the utmost restraint to prevent further losses of life.
The Secretary-General reiterates the need to respect the rule of law and to resolve issues peacefully through dialogue. He urges the Interim Government to pay particular attention to inter-ethnic relations in the country and to take measures to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all citizens in Kyrgyzstan.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Miroslav Jenča, was in Osh last Sunday and will continue his efforts to ensure the peace and stability of Kyrgyzstan.
**Secretary-General in South Africa
That statement, like I said was issued from Johannesburg, where the Secretary-General currently is. He is in South Africa today, where he has been attending the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony and the opening match at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Sepp Blatter of FIFA.
The Secretary-General regards this World Cup tournament as a major landmark for the people of Africa, and he was thrilled to be able to experience the exuberance of the opening ceremony and match.
He arrived overnight from Cameroon, where he met with President Paul Biya and addressed the Parliament, telling them in a speech that we already know who is the winner of the World Cup. As he told reporters afterwards: “ Africa is the winner. It is a moment of pride for Africa. This is a symbol of achievement for Africa, let alone South Africa themselves.” We have his remarks online.
The Secretary-General will continue his latest tour of Africa tomorrow, when he flies to Benin. And he will also be visiting Sierra Leone before returning to New York.
This afternoon at 3 p.m., the Security Council will hold an open meeting, followed by a closed meeting, to discuss the Secretary-General’s recent reports on Sudan. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, will brief Council members on the status of his investigation into the situation in Darfur.
After that, the Security Council will hold consultations on the situation between Djibouti and Eritrea. As you will recall, the Secretary-General issued a statement earlier this week on the agreement reached between those two countries.
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, today concluded a one-and-a-half-day visit in the province of Herat, in the west of Afghanistan. He said that he looked forward to see the capacity and reach of the Government of Afghanistan increasingly meet the demands of its people, improving their daily lives and assuming ownership of their own future.
He met officials in the province, and also paid respect to the Islamic tradition of Afghanistan by visiting some of the symbols of Islamic culture reconstructed with the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture: the Citadel and blue mosque in the centre of Herat city. And we have more details in a press release.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) was saddened to learn this week of the deaths of nine Somali asylum-seekers off the coast of Mozambique on 30 May. They were part of a larger group of 77 Somali nationals trying to reach Mozambique by boat — 41 of whom were forced into the water.
The incident occurred off the coast of north-eastern Mozambique. UNHCR has sent a team to the area to seek further information. The agency warns that an increasing number of Somalis are fleeing violence by sea. Since January of this year, close to 2,000 Somalis have arrived by boat in north-eastern Mozambique. And we have more details in today’s UNHCR briefing notes.
**Millennium Development Goals
Next Monday and Tuesday, the General Assembly is holding informal interactive hearings on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with representatives of civil society and the private sector. The special two-day session is part of the official preparatory process for the September Summit on the MDGs. The speakers — representing non-governmental organizations, business and local authorities — will present their views on how to accelerate progress on the MDGs and also comment on the draft outcome document for the Summit. The full programme and the list of interviewees are available in the Spokesperson’s Office.
**The Week Ahead at the United Nations
We’ll also have shortly The Week Ahead for next week, and among the items, of course, the Secretary-General is expected back in New York by the middle of the week. And he is expected to talk to the press sometime after he returns.
**Press Conferences Today
As for press conferences today, at 12:30 p.m., the Permanent Mission of Switzerland will hold a press conference to introduce the Swiss candidate for the presidency of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
And at 3 p.m. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, the Permanent Representative of Sudan, will hold a press conference.
We also have in the room right now Jean Victor Nkolo, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, and he will speak to you after I’m done, and we’ll both try to be done before 12:30 p.m. Any questions for me?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Farhan, on this, on the situation as far as Iran is concerned, after the UN Security Council imposed the sanctions, the Iranians have said that they will not — probably have indicated that the level of cooperation with the UN inspectors will not be the same as it was in the past. How does the United Nations look at that?
Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, I have checked with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and they haven’t received anything formal from Iran concerning any change about the level of cooperation. So they certainly have no comment at this stage about that matter. From our side, of course, one thing I would like to draw your attention to is that, after the resolution was passed by the Security Council, the Secretary-General once more called for Iran to comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions, and to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and he continues to do so.
Question: I guess the reason why they are saying it — that they were cooperating at a level that was beyond the normal level. Now they have said that they will stop that. So obviously the Secretary-General is not reaching out to them in any way.
Associate Spokesperson: Well, no. The Secretary-General was very clear in his statement on what he expects from Iran and from the international community. He still holds out hope for negotiations, as we made clear at that point. But, certainly, it’s important for Iran to continue cooperation with the IAEA, and to comply with the Council resolutions.
Question: And this is a question I think I asked you informally yesterday, but then again, I still have not received any answer. This is about Gaza and the inquiry committee that the Secretary-General has been talking about, which has been suggested by quarters other than the Secretary-General himself. Maybe the suggestion over the weekend came from the Israelis themselves, about the formation of an inquiry commission. How far… How much progress is there on the formation of an inquiry commission?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, as far as that goes, we don’t have anything further to say in terms of concrete details about any inquiry commission. Our discussions are continuing, and certainly UN officials here in New York, including Mr. [B. Lynn] Pascoe have been in touch with a range of people, including the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman. And so, we’re continuing to seek contacts with all sides about the shape of a future inquiry. Beyond that, the only thing further to reiterate, once more, is that the Secretary-General has made it very clear that credible international involvement is vital for any inquiry to meet the demands expected of it by the Security Council’s presidential statement.
Question: Farhan, can you tell us anything about what are the Israeli suggestions on the formation of the inquiry commission? Have they said anything that you can share with us?
Associate Spokesperson: Certainly we have been in touch with the Israelis, including, as I have mentioned, with the Foreign Minister. I don’t have any concrete details of what Israel is planning to do at this stage. Certainly we’ll be watching and continuing to monitor what the various sides expect from an inquiry.
Question: On the World Cup, I think the Secretary-General is going to be there representing the UN. Is he there today, as a special guest of the Team Mandela or of South Africa, and will he be introduced as a UN person?
Associate Spokesperson: Certainly he had been invited there by the Government of South Africa. As you’ll recall, this is his second trip to South Africa this week alone, and his third in recent weeks. And he came as a guest of the President, of President Zuma. And of course, he’s been very enthusiastic about what this World Cup means to South Africa and to Africa.
Question: Will he be meeting with [Nelson] Mandela, and would he have anything to say about this horrible tragedy with Mandela’s great granddaughter?
Associate Spokesperson: There is no meeting with former President Mandela scheduled at this stage. Of course, the Secretary-General’s heart goes out to former President Mandela at this sad time.
[The Spokesperson later added that the Secretary-General sent a personal letter to Mr. Mandela as soon as he heard the news.]
Question: On Afghanistan, I just wanted to ask you about this attack yesterday on a wedding, in which a dozen or more people were killed. Mr. de Mistura’s spokesman also lamented that. Now, is there going to be an inquiry commission into that particular incident, where it was basically a wedding procession which was attacked there?
Associate Spokesperson: I am not aware at this stage of an inquiry. But I will continue to check with the UN Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA. But at this stage, we’re not aware of how this is being investigated. It seems at this point that one party tried to claim credit for this horrific act.
And with that, I’ll turn you over to Jean Victor. Have a great weekend.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Good afternoon to all.
As you are certainly aware, today, 11 June 2010, the United Nations General Assembly has elected, by acclamation, Joseph Deiss of Switzerland to the office of President of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
Earlier this morning, the President of the General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, met with Micheline Calmy-Rey, Foreign Minister of Switzerland. They exchanged views on a number of issues of peace and development on the United Nations agenda.
The President briefed the Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs on the priorities of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, including the ongoing work in preparation of the September 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit, and other issues, such as system-wide coherence, reform of the Security Council and General Assembly revitalization.
They also discussed the situation in the Middle East, particularly the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and underlined that a comprehensive peace in the Middle East was in the interest of all. Emphasizing the importance of development and multilateralism, they agreed on the need to mobilize continued efforts to strengthen the United Nations.
Yesterday, President Treki met with Cesare Maria Ragaglini, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations. They discussed the upcoming high-level meeting on transnational organized crime. Dr. Treki also met with Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union. Finally, Murad Askarov, Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations, paid a courtesy call on the President of the General Assembly.
That’s what I have for you today. Questions? Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: [inaudible] on the Security Council reform negotiations and other things for this afternoon, right? But I was sort of wondering where we stand, how many more meetings there are in this round of negotiations, and what kind of possible outcome is the President considering, you know, at the end of this round?
Spokesperson: The latest that we have on the front of Security Council reform is what Ambassador Zahir Tanin [of Afghanistan], the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations, told you at the briefing held here on Tuesday. There could have been some further progress since then. But I’ll have to check and come back to you. But I would very much like to send you back to the briefing that is now archived, on the record, that Ambassador Tanin gave on Tuesday.
No further questions? I would like to wish you a pleasant and safe weekend. Thank you very much. We’ll wait for the President-elect of the General Assembly to brief you in a few minutes.
* *** *