Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

4 October 2011

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

4 October 2011
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

So, good afternoon, everyone.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Press Conferences

I am very pleased to welcome back once again Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Emergency Relief Coordinator.  And Ms. Amos is here to brief you on her recent trip to Haiti.

But just to say very briefly, just to say that we have, at 12:30 p.m., coming to brief you, Ambassador Joy Ogwu, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria and President of the Security Council for this month.

Before that, and after Ms. Amos has finished, I will have a few notes for you and will be happy to take a couple of questions if there is time at that point.  But without further ado, the floor is yours, Ms. Amos.

[Press conference by Ms. Amos issued separately.]

I have just a couple of other items and then will be happy to take some questions up to 12:30 p.m.

** Somalia

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, has strongly condemned a suicide bomb attack at a Transitional Federal Government complex in south Mogadishu.  The attack killed scores of people and wounded many more.  Mr. Mahiga said he was deeply saddened by what he described as a “senseless and cowardly” attack that was “unacceptable”.  He said the murder of ordinary Somalis could not be justified for any reason.  His full statement is available online.

I can also tell you that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has also condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms.  And we expect a statement from the Secretary-General quite soon.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council adopted its Programme of Work for the month of October.  And as I mentioned, Ambassdor Ogwu, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria and President of the Security Council for this month, will be here shortly to brief you on that.  And at 5 p.m., the Security Council will meet on the situation in the Middle East.

** Cyprus

The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities discussed their next phase of negotiations ahead of their meeting with the Secretary-General later this month.  The leaders’ next meeting will be on Friday.

That’s what I have for you and I am happy to take some questions.  Yes, George?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I was going to save this for Ambassdor Ogwu, but since you mentioned it, the item for Middle East to 5 p.m. today says adoption.  Is that a usual Middle East, monthly Middle East debate, or is that the Palestinian membership application?

Spokesperson:  I think that’s a question for the President of the Council.  Okay?  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  I guess, since we are on the… the DPRK… beat today, I wanted to ask you, there is this pretty high-profile case in South Korea of a Ms. Sheng sook Jah who was taken in… in DPRK some years… in 1985.  There seems to be a local, even a local campaign in South Korea to get the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in whatever capacity, involved in trying to push for her release.  I wanted to know, is he aware of that campaign?  Has he… is he taking any steps in that regard?

Spokesperson:  Let me check.  I would certainly want to point out that in many instances the Secretary-General works quietly behind the scenes and not necessarily in the full glare of publicity.  I am not saying that that is necessarily the case here, but I would certainly want to make that point.  Okay, any other questions?  Yes, Iftikhar?

Question:  Yes, this attack by Israeli extremists on a mosque; also an attack on a mosque has taken place at a particularly sensitive time.  Does the Secretary-General have any comments on that?

Spokesperson:  Well, what I would say is that, as we have mentioned before, the Quartet statement does mention the need for all sides to avoid provocative actions, and that, obviously, is referring to the parties concerned.  But that same sentiment also applies to the wider community in both cases.  And certainly an attack of that kind is extremely unhelpful at this point.  Okay, any other questions?  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  A follow-up [inaudible].  I mean, I know that there have been some comments by the Secretary-General about Bahrain, but most recently they have announced these, you know, up to 15-year prison sentences for… for political activists who… for what’s described as non-violent protests.  So I just wonder, is that something… is that… is… is the Secretary-General… is he still monitoring events in Bahrain?  What does he think of these sentences?

Spokesperson:  Yes, he most certainly is closely watching what is happening in Bahrain and the statement we issued on Friday is a clear reflection of his views on this topic.  And I would refer you back to that statement. 

Anything else?  Okay, thank you very much. 

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