Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
|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, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon, everyone. Let’s get started.
**Secretary-General on killing of four Israeli citizens in the West Bank
I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General concerning the killing of four Israeli citizens in the West Bank.
“The Secretary-General condemns the killing of four Israeli citizens in the West Bank on 31 August. He extends his condolences to the families of the victims and calls for the perpetrators of this crime to be promptly brought to justice.
This attack must be recognized for what it is: a cynical and blatant attempt to undermine the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations starting tomorrow.
Negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final status issues. The Secretary-General calls upon both sides to show leadership, courage, and responsibility to realize the aspirations of both peoples.”
We have that statement available in our office. Also, there was a statement yesterday from Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also condemning these killings.
The Secretary-General is in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, where he has congratulated the people of Liechtenstein for 20 years of membership in the United Nations — an anniversary that the country will mark in less than three weeks.
He just delivered a speech on global governance and told the officials there, “Yours may be one of the world’s smaller countries, but its role is large. If all nations were as committed to the United Nations and its noble causes, the world would be a far, far better place.” We have that speech in our office.
He also held talks with Government ministers. The Secretary-General is also to meet with Prince Hans-Adam II this evening.
** Democratic Republic of the Congo
Just an update on Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Atul Khare, who, as you know, was dispatched by the Secretary-General to the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week.
Khare left Kinshasa yesterday to go to Goma, Kirumba, Kibua, Bukavu and Uvira, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He spent his first days in the country in the capital, where he met with various officials, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Vice Prime-Minister and the President’s Security Advisor. He also met with representatives of civil society and non governmental organizations.
Earlier this week, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the country, Roger Meece, called for the Congolese authorities, the UN Mission and the international community to work together to put an end to the crimes committed by illegal armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Turkey has assumed the Security Council’s rotating Presidency for the month of September, replacing Russia. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, the new Council President, will brief you in this room tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. on the programme of work for the coming month.
Yesterday afternoon, the members of the Security Council issued a press statement in which they condemned in the strongest terms the attack on the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 30 August, which resulted in the death of four peacekeepers from the African Union Mission, AMISOM. The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the recent increased fighting in Somalia and reiterated their full support for the Transitional Federal Government and for the work of AMISOM.
I have an appointment to announce. The Secretary-General has appointed D. Stephen Mathias of the United States of America as Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs. He succeeds Peter Taksøe-Jensen of Denmark. The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Taksøe-Jensen for his dedication and commitment to the Organization while serving in this position. Mr. Mathias will be, inter alia, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel and will assist in the overall supervision of each of the units of the Office. We have more information on Mr. Mathias in our office.
And last, the Secretary-General today thanked a group of 26 Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace for agreeing to focus their efforts on championing the Millennium Development Goals.
Antonio Banderas, Mia Farrow, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Carl Lewis, Ricky Martin, Ronaldo and Maria Sharapova are among the celebrities who already have a track record in speaking out about one or more of the Goals. They will use every opportunity to raise awareness for the Goals and the September MDG Summit.
“As household names, they can bring the message of global justice and solidarity to homes and communities around the world,” the Secretary-General said. And the full list is available on the Millennium Development Goals web site.
After I’m done, we have available Jean Victor Nkolo, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, who will be here shortly.
Any questions for me?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Considering the opening of the peace talks in Washington today, doesn’t Mr. Ban Ki-moon, or the Deputy Secretary-General, believe that the UN and other Quartet members should have been invited to the opening of the talks today?
Deputy Spokesperson: At this stage, Tony Blair is there as the representative, as the envoy of the Quartet. The Secretary-General and the other Quartet members are available as needed, but as you know the Secretary-General is travelling today.
Question: Considering the role of the Quartet in this process and the Quartet statement as well, wouldn’t it have been given more balance to these talks if the Quartet members were represented there?
Deputy Spokesperson: As you know, the Quartet has already issued a statement encouraging the start of these direct talks and the Secretary-General fully concurs with the sentiments of the Quartet.
Question: I asked yesterday about Ovadia Yosef, the rabbi in Israel’s statement. Considering that you immediately issued a statement about the attacks in the West Bank…
Deputy Spokesperson: One point I’d like to mention. I would like to read again part of the statement that we just issued concerning the killing, that that attack was recognized “as a cynical and blatant attempt to undermine the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that are starting tomorrow”, and indeed with any attempts to undermine these negotiations, our response is that “negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final party status issues”. And that’s what I would say.
Question: The UN doesn’t feel that the statements of this rabbi, considering that he has 17 members in parliament, deserve a separate comment from you?
Deputy Spokesperson: Our comment, as [Chief Spokesperson] Martin Nesirky also made clear yesterday, whenever it comes to things that could potentially undermine the start of direct talks, our focus is, like I said before, to emphasize the idea that negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve final status issues, and we are encouraging that.
Question: I heard your statement about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mr. Meece. There’s a story — it came out in yesterday’s New York Times — with much more specifics about what the UN knew and when, saying that on 30 July in that e-mail it mentioned a rape in the village of Mpofi, and also a 10 August e‑mail mentioning already 25 rapes. These dates are inconsistent, to put it mildly, with what Mr. Meece said to us from the video screen. What are the ramifications? Does the UN deny this New York Times report or are we missing something in terms of the inaccuracies?
Deputy Spokesperson: As far as that goes, as you’re aware, when the Secretary-General learned of these mass rapes, what he did from our side was to immediately dispatch Atul Khare, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is there right now. We just mentioned what his travels in the area are. He, among other things, was sent there specifically to look into the mass rapes that occurred in the Walikale area. He’ll also look at our response and how we responded to it. He’s there now collecting information and we will see what his evaluation is of that situation when he returns. We expect him back next week and we expect him to report back to the Secretary-General, and also, by the way, to the Security Council, although, of course, their schedule for the month is still being determined.
Question: But I remember Martin saying from this podium that here at the Secretariat in New York your office was looking into this 30 July e-mail to find what it was and what it said. Now, the New York Times says a rape occurred. I’m just wondering, has your office found that e-mail? And totally outside of Mr. Khare’s time schedule, what does it mean it mean about what Mr. Meece told us?
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, we have been looking into that. At this stage, what I would wait for is to see what information Mr. Khare, as the person who is there on the ground, because he is there, he is accumulating data and he will report back. I think we’ll leave it until then. But, yes, we’ve been looking into this and certainly we’re trying to find what the providence of this particular e-mail is.
Question: Just one more on this. The International Medical Corps now says that the number of women treated in this mass rape incident, they’ve raised their number from 192 to 242. I’m just wondering if the UN, which initially had this 154 number, do you dispute those numbers? Or is the UN just shutting down its communications until 7 September?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have for you at this stage any higher number beyond what we’ve given. However, as our presence in that area grows and as there’s been more of a restoration of peace to various areas, freeing up people to feel like they can speak, we’re trying to get more information about what’s going on. So we may find out more information about other attacks. So we would update the numbers accordingly once we get that. But right now at this stage what we’re doing is we’re spreading out into various communities. We’re looking into different reports and we’ll try and see what further information we have.
[The Spokesperson added later that the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has put the number of rape victims at higher than 240, with more cases being reported.]
Question: I have a question on the Rwanda report. I understand the Secretary-General’s been consulting with some senior diplomats in New York on it. I wondered really if there was just a sense of how much trouble the leak has caused, and also, whether there was a sense of when a decision might be made on when it will be publicized and when it will be made public.
Deputy Spokesperson: As far as that goes, we made it clear that we expect the report to be published and we expect that to happen fairly soon. We don’t have a timeline for when that’s going to come out. But, clearly when it is published, you can look at the final text and compare it to the early draft that had been leaked.
Question: How regrettable is the leak?
Deputy Spokesperson: We’ve mentioned that leaks are regrettable and we always regret leaks. At the same time, as you know, we’re rather used to them.
Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 how regrettable is it?
Deputy Spokesperson: I wouldn’t put it on a scale.
Question: As Matthew was saying, when this will be made public, the report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you keep saying, we will find out. Are we included in “we” or are you talking about “we” meaning the UN?
Deputy Spokesperson: [From] Mr. Khare, as well as Margot Wallström, the expectation is, although I can’t confirm this because the Security Council has to adopt its programme of work, but we believe that they would brief the Security Council possibly next week and we expect that could even be an open briefing, in which case, of course, it would be public knowledge.
Question: Do you expect there would be recommendations for improving communications?
Deputy Spokesperson: I can’t predict what’s going to happen beforehand, but certainly if it’s an open meeting of the Council you would be privy to it at that time.
Question: Is the Secretary-General doing anything or is he spending any effort to bring Hamas openly at least into these direct negotiations? How does he feel about leaving the Gaza administration out of these direct negotiations?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have anything beyond what we have actually said. As you know, the Secretary-General issued a statement upon the acceptance by the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the offer of direct negotiations. And I would just refer back to that statement.
Question: We haven’t heard much recently about an old conflict, namely Western Sahara. There are indications that the personal envoy, Mr. Ross, would soon be meeting in an informal session with the parties. Can you confirm that?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, I cannot. But we’ll check with Mr. Ross whether there’s anything we can say about his activities.
Question: There was a report recently in the Spanish press about a leaked memo written by Mr. Christopher Ross indicating that he’s basically frustrated with the outcome of all the previous sessions, and he wants the Security Council to interfere in order to bring the two parties to oversee more compromises to allow the talks. Can you confirm this memo?
Deputy Spokesperson: I wonder what Joe would place that on the scale of leaks? But this, of course, proves my point that just about every document leaks. But, I would not comment on the leaked memo. No.
Question: But the Ross memo is like a real memo, not a fake memo. Mr. Ross is not denying, so there is an opinion by the guy who’s responsible for this file, saying that nothing is moving at all.
Deputy Spokesperson: Mr. Ross is continuing with his efforts. Obviously, he is aware of the difficulties, as indeed his predecessors have been, during this very lengthy process of negotiations. But he’s continuing with his efforts and certainly at the time that memo had been purportedly written, he was already engaged in talks with various concerned parties, and he will continue to pursue those and to see how we can move forward.
[The Spokesperson later added that the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General for Western Sahara continues to work with the parties and the neighbouring States with the objective of entering into substantive negotiations to find a mutually agreed political solution for the conflict of Western Sahara. Mr. Ross has stated on many occasions that the positions are still far apart and he has asked the parties to show more flexibility so that progress can be made.]
Question: Any next step about that?
Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, I’ll check with Mr. Ross and with our office on this to see if we have anything to say. But I don’t have anything to announce just yet.
Question: Do you have any updates on UN Women, appointing the head?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, I do not. There’s no appointment to announce just yet.
Question: Do you have a timeline for when it might happen? As to whether it’s been narrowed down?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t. Hopefully it will be fairly soon, but I don’t have any specific date on which we expect to make the announcement.
Question: In the last two days, once again, World Food Programme (WFP) officials and UN officials have been again asking the international community for more helicopters for help in Pakistan for the flood victims. Has anybody responded? Has any Member State responded with anything positive or is it just an ongoing thing? Americans come and bring it, or…?
Deputy Spokesperson: We’ve had some responses. Obviously, we need the long-term supply of about 40 helicopters, is what the World Food Programme is indicating. I’d refer you over to our colleagues in the WFP. They’ve been trying to accept whatever assistance they can on a case-by-case basis. As you know, other offices, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), have also temporarily provided supplies. But what they’re looking for is about 40 helicopters.
Question: But every time something happens they’ve been e-mailing me on the helicopter situation every now and then, but it seems that there is no movement on the part of any Member States, except for the United States.
Deputy Spokesperson: The United States, the Government of Pakistan and others have tried to help as much as they can with their air assets. But we certainly do need more.
Question: On Sudan and also whistleblowers. On Sudan, I wanted to know if you can confirm that the resident and humanitarian coordinator, George Charpentier, provides advanced copies of his press releases that he puts out to the Government, to the Humanitarian Affairs Minister of Sudan. I want you to find out if that’s true. If it is true, can you say if it’s appropriate for a UN humanitarian coordinator to only issue statements that are approved by the Government where he’s located?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I don’t have confirmation on that. We’ll certainly check into that.
Question: Two questions I asked Martin yesterday about Sudan, about the failure of UNMIS [United Nations Mission in the Sudan] to….
Deputy Spokesperson: Actually, our colleagues in the peacekeeping department are in fact following up. They do have some information which we’ll provide, hopefully fairly shortly.
Question: And also on whistleblowers. I want to know if you have a comment on this. There was a decision yesterday by the UN’s dispute tribunal in the case of Tony Shkurtaj against the UN. He was the whistleblower of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) that provided information about the UN in North Korea. He was fired. He was barred from the premises. He’s now been awarded $166,000 for back pay and also kind of punitive damages for violating his due process rights. I’m wondering since the Secretary-General himself had played some role in calling for the investigation, what does he say now about the outcome of this whistleblower of being essentially vindicated, and will in fact the whistleblower be paid the damages awarded to him?
Deputy Spokesperson: First of all, it was a complex decision. There are many aspects to that decision. What I can tell you about the decision is that it’s being studied at this time. Beyond that I don’t have anything further to say.
Question: The outgoing administrative advisor, UN advisor of UN peacekeeping operations should be winding up by the middle of the month. But I have it on good authority that he’s being engaged for the next six months at the UN for a specific purpose. I want to get more information on that.
Deputy Spokesperson: I have a little bit more information in my office. I think I can help you with that after.
[The Spokesperson added that DPKO is planning to retain the services of Lt. Gen. Obiakor for a few months in order to leverage his extensive knowledge of UN peacekeeping operations, gained at both headquarters and in the field, to conduct a scheduled review of the command and control policy on the basis of the experience gained in the restructuring of DPKO and establishment of The Department of Field Support (DFS). This review also responds to observations offered by member states and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). He will also continue to contribute to the Departments' work on a robust approach to peacekeeping.]
Question: On Cyprus, last night the donor and Greek and Turkish leaders had dinner. And there’s some talk about the Secretary-General actually meeting both the leaders here in New York this month. Is there any confirmation?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have a confirmation for that just yet. We’ll provide you with a schedule of the Secretary-General’s meetings closer to the actual time of the plenary.
Question: There is a report that the Rwanda report was completed a year ago and that it’s been hanging around all this time. Only now it’s getting the attention that it deserves and it’s going to be published. Is that true?
Deputy Spokesperson: Not for years. Certainly the draft of it had been prepared months ago. It’s not unusual for drafts to be looked at, including by our legal experts and others over the course of a period of months. And certainly that’s happened. I do know that my colleague in the human right office, Rupert Colville, confirmed now that the report is complete. At this stage, what we’re waiting for is when it will be published.
Question: And what does that mean? That changes have been made? It’s final?
Deputy Spokesperson: He said that the report is complete.
Question: When did it come to New York to the Secretary-General’s office for consideration? Do you know how long it’s been there?
Deputy Spokesperson: I wouldn’t have a precise date. But in an editorial process, a document can move back and force. There’s nothing unusual about that.
Question: Do you know how many Permanent Representatives he’s invited in to discuss this with?
Deputy Spokesperson: No. As with other reports that have a degree of sensitivity, he does talk with different officials. It’s quite possible that many of them will have their own responses and their own replies. In any case, he has talked with a number of officials. I wouldn’t characterize what the number is.
Question: Yesterday a programme was launched by the Sudanese Government.
Deputy Spokesperson: Could you speak up a bit?
Question: Yesterday a programme was launched by the Sudanese Government to end the use of child soldiers by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, which was held by UNICEF. I was wondering if you have any insight into the amount of child soldiers used by this liberation army.
Deputy Spokesperson: No. I don’t have any particular information on this. I’d refer you to my colleagues in UNICEF who I believe have been reacting to this development.
Question: On the Rwanda report, usually for these kinds of things, there’s like an opening or a letter by Secretary-General. Is he going to be writing one for the Rwanda report? Has he already drafted one? You said it was complete?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t want to try to predict how it will come out. Certainly, the report will come out and then you can see for yourself what format all of those responses are in.
Question: On the situation of Sudan, the Prime Minister this morning said that it will take as much as $43 billion to help the country recover and reconstruct. How is the international community going to be able to face this challenge? And, also, I had asked before about this issue. There is some indication that another summit will take place on Pakistan. And the date of 19 September has been advanced. Can you confirm now that meeting? Is it going to take place?
Deputy Spokesperson: I cannot confirm that just yet. There is the intention to hold another senior-level meeting on Pakistan and what the needs are there. The Secretary-General has encouraged that effort as has his envoy, Mr. Ripert. In terms of a concrete date, nothing further to say just yet.
Question: [inaudible] will they come here to do a press conference when she releases the report or will it be put out on the racks at 7 p.m. on Friday night?
Deputy Spokesperson: We don’t do that. I don’t know what form the presentation will take at this stage. That remains to be worked out.
Question: On Myanmar and then also host country issues. On Myanmar, two things. Noleen Heyzer of ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) had made a statement at a recent conference in Bangkok saying the Myanmar Government displayed a readiness to set aside other issues, focusing instead on what mattered most, human lives, referring to the Nargis response. I’m wondering if the Secretary-General shares that view. Also there’s been a call by a number of Governments — the United Kingdom, Australia, Czech Republic, Slovenia and now the United States — for a commission of inquiry into possible war crimes in Myanmar. And there’s a discussion that it should be done through the UN. Is the Secretary-General aware of that call and what does he think of it?
Deputy Spokesperson: First of all, we don’t have any comment on what Noleen Heyzer says, which speaks for itself. Beyond that, on the issue of war crimes, this was a recommendation that was made by the Rapporteur dealing with this issue, Tomás Ojea Quintana. I’m not aware of any of the bodies of the Members States of the United Nations, for example, taking up this particular issue.
Question: I had asked I think almost two weeks ago about this issue of UN staff members from countries that are on United States sanctions’ list being told by the United States Government that despite being UN staff members with G4 visas, that they can’t travel beyond 25 miles from New York without getting approval or pre-approval from the State Department. I’m just wondering if there’s any…
Deputy Spokesperson: I believe we e-mailed you whatever the response to that was. I think we did that a week or so ago.
Question: What is the response? Do you know?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have the precise wording, which is actually quite precise. But we’ve taken up our concerns with the host Government on this issue, is the short response. But check your e-mail.
[The Spokesperson later said that the United Nations Secretariat has indicated to the United States Government its position of principle concerning the treatment of its staff solely on the basis of their nationality and has requested that all travel restrictions be removed by the host country as soon as possible.]
Question: Do we expect an announcement by Mr. Ban Ki-moon during this General Assembly whether he’s running for a second term or not? When is the deadline for that? I mean shouldn’t we know a year beforehand? When is he going to announce whether he’s going to run for a second term or not?
Deputy Spokesperson: A decision about a second term for this Secretary-General or who would be the next Secretary-General is as always in the hands of the Member States. It’s up to them to decide on whether or not to do that or consider someone else. For Ban Ki-moon’s part, he is serving out his current term and he’s trying to do the best job he can during this particular term, which is a term that lasts through the end of next year, which is to say through the end of 2011.
Question: In terms of timing, when are usually these things decided? Like a year in advance?
Deputy Spokesperson: The timing of these decisions varies from each time, if you followed the past ones. It’s in the hands of the Member States.
Question: So, he doesn’t have to announce something himself? I mean, even if he doesn’t run, the Member States will say we want you to run?
Deputy Spokesperson: I think that at this stage there’s no need for him to pronounce himself on this question right now. Of course, if he feels there is a need for him to pronounce his own views on this, he will certainly do so.
Question: Does the Secretary-General intend to send a special message to the meeting in Washington on this occasion of trying to settle the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians?
Deputy Spokesperson: I think the Secretary-General did just about two weeks ago send a message following the agreement by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to enter direct negotiations, and I would refer you back to the statement he issued at that time. Whether we feel the need to issue any further statements, of course, we’ll issue those in due course if and when they’re needed.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Good afternoon. In order to respond to recent queries from correspondents regarding upcoming proceedings, kindly note the following. There is no change in the case of Kosovo as far as we know at this stage. The draft resolution is still tentatively scheduled for 9 September.
Other draft resolutions that are pending and that are not linked to Kosovo: L.55/Rev.1, that’s the draft on the extension of the transition period preceding the graduation of Samoa from least developed country status; L.57/L.62, that’s the observance of international humanitarian law and international humanitarian rights law in the occupied territories in Azerbaijan, as well as the status of internally displaced persons from Abkhazia, Georgia and the [inaudible] Valley region in South Ossetia Georgia. Also pending is L.67, as well as the International Court of Justice election on 9 September as per resolution 1926.
For the arrangements for the high-level meetings in the General Assembly debate of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, I’d like to refer you to A/65. If any of you have difficulties retrieving these documents, just send me an email at email@example.com and we will facilitate that. For the time being, there is no updated list of speakers, as yet, that has been made public for the General Debate.
Regarding the reform of the Security Council, it will be difficult in light of the limited time remaining to have Ambassador Zahir Tanin, the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations, to brief you. However, this is a work in progress and something we’ll have to come back to in due course. So, we’ll be talking to Ambassador Tanin to see when he can brief you. But as you know, we only have a few days remaining before the end of the sixty-forth session.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Does the President of the General Assembly intend to send a special message of encouragement to the Washington meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?
Spokesperson: There is no message as such, as we speak. But I will certainly go back to him and ask if such as message is in the works and we will let you know.
Question: You gave us that list of draft resolutions for the 9th. What’s the latest time a party can submit a draft resolution for the 9th or for any other dates?
Spokesperson: Well, this is a normal process in the General Assembly. If a Member State or regional group has something to submit, there are specific procedures for that. Member States can decide to submit a draft resolution or to contact the President for any subject matter. For the time being, if you refer to the 9 September draft resolution on Kosovo, what we have said is on the table for the time being hasn’t changed.
Question: Not just Kosovo, but for any other draft resolutions, can someone submit something the night before and it will be on the agenda for the 9th, or is there a due date that these things…
Spokesperson: There is no due date.
Question: So something can still be added?
Spokesperson: Absolutely. But the time remaining to is getting very short.
Question: About the MDGs, the negotiations that have been going on this week. Does the President think that these will come to a final text, will sort of be agreed on by Friday? There seems to be some rumblings among some of the G77 members that the co-facilitators shouldn’t be offering their own drafting, that everything should be out in the open. What’s the President of the General Assembly’s involvement been in trying to bring these negotiations to a close?
Spokesperson: Thank you for that question, Matthew. As we have been reporting from this podium, the President has been very much engaged in the process to ensure that the high-level summit is a success. And he has been talking to all leaders and he has been visiting various countries and pressing leaders to attend at the highest possible level. So the President, as a facilitator, is very much interested in making sure that this process is through and that this meeting is a success. The rumblings that you are referring to, we haven’t actually heard them, but it is true that this is a work in progress and that much more needs to be done. But the President remains fully engaged and he is consulting with all stakeholders and I think this meeting will be a success.
Question: I just mean the actual text itself. Some are saying that he set a deadline of Friday for it to be agreed to and he called Permanent Representatives to negotiate, that it’s about 40 pages long at this point. Are these things true and what does he want to whittle it down to in terms of having something for Heads of State to work on?
Spokesperson: I haven’t heard that. It’s always very difficult to kind of sneak in a process that’s already ongoing. Mainly when there is a draft being discussed. It’s more an editorial and political process. So I think we have to leave it there and give the time to Member States to come up with the best possible text they can gather.
Question: Does the President of the General Assembly have any travel plans between now and the opening of the Summit on the MDGs?
Spokesperson: Not that I know of. The President is currently in New York and if such a plan for him to travel between now and the MDG Summit arises, I will definitely let you know. I doubt it, however.
Question: Do we know yet who the Spokesperson for the new President will be and when will he take over and will we perhaps get to meet him or have him introduced sometime previous to that?
Spokesperson: You are putting me on the spot here. Maybe you should allow the President-elect to have his first press conference, which will probably take place on 14 September, and he will give you that information.
Question: About the 14th?
Question: Thank you.
Spokesperson: You’re most welcome. Thank you very much and I wish you a pleasant and good afternoon.
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