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

22 February 2012

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

22 February 2012
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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

The Secretary-General has arrived in London.  About now he is meeting Andrew Mitchell, the British Secretary for International Development.

The Secretary-General will also be meeting Nabil Elaraby, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, to discuss developments in Syria and the way forward, including the appointment of a special envoy to handle the crisis.

In the meantime, the Secretary-General has asked Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation and renew the call for urgent humanitarian access.

The Secretary-General has had or will have further bilateral meetings in London, and we will provide readouts.  Tomorrow, as you know, the Secretary-General will take part in the London Conference on Somalia.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the expansion of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 17,731 uniformed personnel, as well as to put AMISOM on a predictable financial footing through the enhancement of the United Nations logistical support package.

In addition, UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien and Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), briefed the Council on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

This afternoon, the Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Ameerah Haq, will brief the Council on developments there.

** Lebanon

Pursuant to the terms of the annex to Security Council resolution 1757 (2007), the Secretary-General has decided to extend the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for a period of three years, from 1 March 2012.  In doing so, the Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to the efforts of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to uncover the truth regarding the terrorist attack that took the lives of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, so as to bring those responsible to justice and send a message that impunity will not be tolerated.

** Israel

In a statement, Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that today’s announcement by Israel to approve a large number of new units deep inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in the settlement of Shilo, and retroactively legitimize hundreds in a nearby outpost is deplorable and moves us further away from the goal of a two-State solution.

Mr. Serry noted that the Secretary-General reiterated the United Nations well-known position that settlement activity is illegal, contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Road Map and will not be recognized by the international community, during his recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

**Secretary-General’s Appointments

I have four new appointments by the Secretary-General to announce.  They are Kate Gilmore of Australia as one of the two Deputy Executive Directors of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).  Ms. Gilmore will succeed Purnima Mane.

Sima Sami Bahous of Jordan as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).  Ms. Bahous will replace Amat Alsoswa.

Jens Wandel of Denmark as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of Management at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).  Mr. Wandel will replace Akiko Yuge.

Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğu of Turkey as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).  Ms. Sultanoğu will replace Kori Udovički.  We have more information on these appointments in my office.

That’s it from me.  Questions, please?  Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I mean, since we all know that the Secretary-General’s main preoccupation should be maintenance of international peace and security, towards that end, has he any creative ideas to somehow avoid this impending attack, or the situation in [inaudible] Iran that happened?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General, as we have stated previously, has called on the Iranians to prove to the world, the interntional community, that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, and has called on Member States to ratchet down the levels of rhetoric.  He is calling for resumption of the negotiations with the “E3+3”, and that’s where we are at right now.  Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Eduardo.  On Tunisia, the country is going through very difficult political and economic transition to democracy.  What specific assistance is the UN bringing to the country?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as we’ve stated previously, we brought assistance in elections monitoring and carrying out elections in Tunisia, and the panoply of United Nations organizations is active in Tunisia, working with the Government in those areas in which they think is most appropriate.

Question:  Thank you.  Has the Secretary-General consulted with the Lebanese Government regarding the extension of the STL mandate?  Did he get the consent of the Lebanese Government, and did he consult as well with the Security Council, as I think the 1757 resolution calls for the Secretary-General to consult with both – the Lebanese Government and…?  And what about the appointment of the new Prosecutor in replacement for Mr. Bellemare?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, with respect to your first question, the Secretary-General did everything he is mandated and is supposed to do in order to achieve this decision.  With respect to the second question, that decision is still in the process of being taken.

Question:  UN experts left Iran without coming to an agreement; does the Secretary-General have any comment or reaction to that?  And what should be the next step forward in finding a solution and achieving a situation that is practical?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General, as I said it before, has been very clear on what he expects the Iranian authorities to do.  He expects the Iranian authorities to prove to the international community that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.  He also expects the Iranian Government to abide by all Security Council and IAEA resolutions.  That is the position of the Secretary-General, that’s what it has always been, and it’s up to the Iranians to satisfy those criteria.

Question:  Just a follow-up.  It’s just, no country… I can’t think of any country that would allow that others… that would let others to come in and visit their military sites — is that a solution that is even practical?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, it is a solution that is necessary.  The international community has to be satisfied that Iran’s nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.  And it is up to the Iranian authorities to satisfy that concern of the interntional community.  Tim?

Question:  Since the Secretary-General has asked Madame Amos to go to Syria, how is that going to work?  Does she have a date to go there?  Does she have to seek permission from the Syrian Government?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, obviously Ms. Amos will have to work out a programme and she will have to decide on when she goes, how she goes, the Syrian Government we expect that the… it’s a humanitarian mission; we expect the Syrian Government will respond positively.  I mean, the Secretary-General had some very good meetings with Foreign Minister Lavrov last week, in which he impressed on the Russian Foreign Minister the need to open up the country to humanitarian assistance.  The Russians have come out and said that the humanitarian assistance is necessary.  We believe this is the position of the international community.  The General Assembly spoke last week on this issue also, and we would expect that the international community’s concerns would be satisfied.

Question:  And so no date yet?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No date yet, no.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Question:  A follow-up?  Has the Secretary-General been in consultation with the Turkish and Lebanese Governments in the event of a massive flight of refugees out of Syria if this Assad regime were to fall?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The United Nations system is constantly working on scenarios to address evolving situations, yes.

Question:  The Secretary-General should appoint a special envoy for Syria; is he going to do that any time soon?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, he is planning to do so.  He will be meeting with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Elaraby.  I believe it is 6:30 tonight, London time, and they will be discussing the matter.  Masood?

Question:  Yeah, no, I was going to ask a similar question.  Does he have any names of, I mean this, the potential candidates for this post of [inaudible]?

Deputy Spokesperson:  When we have an announcement to make, we will make it.  Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you.  On Syria still, three prominent journalists have been killed by the Syrian forces today.  Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General’s position has always been that the violence has to end and the killing has to stop from whatever quarter.  Those of us who watch TV watched Marie Colvin last night on CNN.  This morning, we woke up with the news that she was killed in a firefight, in a shelling.  Last night, her report was on a two-year-old boy who died because of lack of medical assistance.  I think all of this serves to put a very human face on the suffering that the people of Syria are undergoing right now, and it underscores the Secretary-General’s position that the violence has to stop, that we have to find a way forward that brings people together and that stops the killing.  Okay, thank you.  Have a good afternoon.  One more question?

Question:  Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to the recent release of the Palestinian prisoner, Mr. Adnan, yesterday by the Israeli Government?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Mr. Serry has spoken to that issue.  The Secretary-General did meet with the Palestinian and Israeli authorities on the whole question of Palestine and his views are well known on that.

Thank you.  Have a good afternoon.

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