|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 and welcome to the briefing. Apologies for the slight delay.
**Noon Briefing Guest Today
I am joined again by John Ging, the Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This time, John is here to brief you on his recent mission to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So, John, please, welcome back, and the floor is yours.
[Press conference by Mr. Ging issued separately]
So, the Security Council held a meeting this morning to hear an update from Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on the work of her office in examining the situation in Darfur.
And just before that meeting, the Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts established under resolution 1737 (2006), which concerns non-proliferation and Iran. The mandate was extended until 9 July next year.
As you will have seen, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, spoke to reporters in Geneva following the talks held there today between senior [United States], Russian and UN officials. He said that he was happy with the constructive nature of today’s discussions and believes that further positive steps have been taken towards the convening of an international conference on Syria.
And Mr. Brahimi said that there is still a lot of work to do to bring a conference about, and that it will not be possible to hold the conference in June. He said that he would continue consultations with Russia and the United States on holding the conference as soon as possible, possibly in July. He said that the three parties would meet again in Geneva on 25 June.
He added that he looks forward to continuing consultations with a wide range of interlocutors, in addition to the Russians and the Americans, to build on the momentum achieved in Geneva today. And we have a transcript of his remarks to the press available in my office.
The Secretary-General spoke this morning at the opening session of the third International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development, here at UN Headquarters.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that he was happy to see more Governments using sport and physical activity as a tool for social and economic development. He said that the United Nations stands ready to partner with organizations such as the International Olympic Committee to promote sport for all regardless of health or wealth, colour or creed.
Later, the Secretary-General accepted the Olympic Order Award on behalf of the United Nations. In accepting this award, he said he was committed to further strengthening the bonds between the two organizations. And he also participated in the opening of an Olympic display here at UN Headquarters.
Yesterday I was asked about Ali Kushayb. The joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says that on 10 and 11 April, a verification patrol by the mission to Um Dukhun in Central Darfur was not allowed by the Government of Sudan to proceed into the town.
The mission was able to confirm that fighting between Misseriya and Salamat tribes took place in the area. However, the mission has not observed Muhammad Ali Abdel-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, in Darfur.
I’d also refer you to some remarks that the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court made on the same subject to the Security Council. I believe they’re available on the website of the International Criminal Court.
Questions, please. Yes, Nizar?
**Questions and Answers
Question: [inaudible] after the, the Syrian army regained Al Qusayr, eh, the reporters there on the ground said that they have not seen civilians and most of the rebels have fled the area. Is there any way the United Nations… is the mission, for example, going to visit Al Qusayr? Are they going to establish where the, the civilians have fled to, how many of them , of them have been injured or killed, whereabout are they?
Spokesperson: Well, I was speaking to John Ging just before the briefing he just gave you, and he was mentioning that, so far, humanitarian workers have not had access to Qusayr, so it is not possible at this point to give you more information on that. Obviously, if we get anything further, we’ll let you know. But, at this point, they have not had access. Other questions, please.
Question: Do you have any contact with the Syrian Government, eh, with [inaudible]?
Spokesperson: Well, again, Nizar, Mr. Ging was here, and was answering questions on Syria; he may have been able to answer you. My impression is that there are contacts with the Syrian authorities, but I don’t know the precise nature of them and whether, for example, they have been held today. But, there was an undertaking by the Syrian authorities to allow access to Qusayr once the military operation was completed. And so far, humanitarian workers, as I heard from Mr. Ging, have not had access to Qusayr. Yes, Masood? And then I am going up towards the back here. Yes?
Question: In, in, in, in [inaudible] of Mr. Brahimi’s press conference in Geneva today, uh, does the Sec-… has the Secretary-General feel he can, now the process is on the right track? Is it moving ahead? But, the ultimate conference, which is going to happen in July?
Spokesperson: I would simply refer you to what Mr. Brahimi himself has said. I think he spelled out both the possible time frame and also the remaining questions and consultations that are required. The Secretary-General would simply encourage that process to continue and for the meeting, the conference itself, to be held as soon as possible.
Question: The Secretary-General does… himself, doesn’t have any one way or another saying that this is now more hopeful or less hopeful?
Spokesperson: It just needs to happen as soon as possible, Masood. Yes, Linda?
Question: Can you tell me, does the Secretary-General have any response to the announcement today that [ United States] Ambassador Rice will be appointed National Security Adviser?
Spokesperson: Well, unless I am mistaken, there hasn’t been an official announcement yet. If, or when, there is an official announcement, I would anticipate that we’ll have something to say, but not at this point. We’ve seen the reports, obviously.
Correspondent: I was going to ask you the same question.
Spokesperson: Okay, in which case, have something else.
Question: Yes. Is there any idea, is there any guesstimate of this conference on Syria in Geneva? Originally, it should have been next week, that was sort of the informal date. Do you have any idea?
Question: That would be kept [inaudible], and also, when is your new briefing room going to be ready?
Spokesperson: Well, I think probably the first question is easier to answer than the second. On the Geneva conference on Syria, I would simply, again, refer you to what Mr. Brahimi has said. I don’t have anything to add to that, really. On the second part of it, the briefing room, the new briefing room is coming together, and I would anticipate that we would start to use it quite soon. And when I am in a position to say exactly when, I will do so, and look forward to welcoming you there. Yes, Jonathan?
Question: [inaudible], on the Syria Brahimi press conference today, it seems like any sort of meeting of substance that could happen is weeks off. So, we are in the middle of some ferocious fighting now in, in Syria, we are going to see more bloodshed. What, exactly, is the Secretary-General doing? I know there was a question earlier about, you know, is he speaking to the Syrian Government and, and what sort of, uh, action is he taking on this, but is he deferring more to Brahimi, or is he taking a more proactive role in this?
Spokesperson: Well, Jonathan, Mr. Brahimi is the Joint Special Representative and is empowered by both the United Nations and the League of Arab States to work on this topic, and that’s why he is there in Geneva with the [United States] and Russian officials. And, as you will have heard him say, the first segment of the conference, when it takes place, would be followed — and that first segment would be chaired by the Secretary-General — but then the next part, the intensive negotiations between the two Syrian parties would be facilitated by him; in other words, by the Joint Special Representative. So he has a very important role. Is the Secretary-General active on this? Yes, of course, he is. He remains in touch with world leaders, regularly meeting them when he is travelling and speaking by telephone. Of course he continues to do that, to help to push the process along and to seek assistance from those who can in turn place influence on the two parties and, or more than two parties, to get their act together and go to Geneva.
Question: I suppose a more pointed question is: Given what the outcome today, or what we heard, which is a delay of more weeks in any sort of hope that maybe the Russians and the Americans and other parties might be able to, to work things out, to help the fighting come to an end, can the Secretary-General intervene and say: “I am not happy with this; this isn’t good enough.” Why should we wait a couple of weeks? Come on guys, get on with it!
Spokesperson: Look, the Secretary-General trusts Mr. Brahimi as he does the [ United States] and Russian officials in the work that they are doing. They have all said that they are working as hard as they can to make it happen as soon as possible. Mr. Brahimi himself was asked why couldn’t you go further today? The twenty-fifth is far away and the situation in the field is tragic. So, in other words, paraphrasing the very question that you have asked, or, the other way around; you’re paraphrasing the same kind of question that was asked in Geneva. His reply was, you’re absolutely right, the situation in Syria is absolutely tragic. I think it is embarrassing for us that we are not capable of holding this conference already. But, as you know, the opposition has to complete a lot of work to get ready for this conference. And I think they are doing that. So, does the SG, the Secretary-General, share that opinion that things need to happen faster, but that there is still some way to go, and in the meantime people die? Yes, he does share that view that it is tragic and that it is also embarrassing that we can’t get there yet. But, everybody is working extremely hard to get there as soon as possible. Other questions, please?
Thank you very much. Have a good afternoon.
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