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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press conference following his meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner [unofficial transcript]

Paris, France, 14 July 2008

SG : Merci beaucoup, monsieur le ministre. Je tiens à exprimer mes remerciements au gouvernement français pour son aimable invitation à visiter Paris. Je présente toutes mes félicitations à l a France à l'occasion de sa fête nationale, sous un soleil radieux. C'est une grande fierté pour moi d'avoir été accueilli par le Président Sarkozy comme hôte d'honneur et avoir vu les troupes de maintien de la paix des NU participer au défilé du 14 juillet.

I also want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the contribution by the French Government to peacekeeping efforts of the UN. I would commend the leadership role played by France and I also want to express my congratulations to the French Government on assuming the presidency of the European Union. I wish great success under your leadership and presidency of EU.

I am also looking forward to working closely with President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner on peace, development and human rights around the world. I also congratulate the French Government and President Sarkozy for the successful hosting of the Paris Summit of the Union for the Mediterranée which [confirms] the leadership role played by France. During today's meeting with Foreign Minister Kouchner, we discussed many regional and country issues, as the Minister just said, we talked about the Middle East, including Lebanon, where we noticed some recent positive developments.

It was also encouraging to notice here the Lebanese and Syrian Presidents, counterparts, starting a process aiming to achieve diplomatic relations between their two countries. We also discussed the positive developments on the Israeli-Syrian track, we reviewed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the situation in Gaza. We shared our concerns in regards to the situation in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and in Kosovo. We also reviewed the situation in Sudan and Chad. As you know the prosecutor of the ICC (International Criminal Court) announced that he had asked the Court to indict President Al-Bashir of Sudan. We agreed with the Foreign Minister that it was essential for the UN in Sudan to continue with its peacekeeping operations and its humanitarian and development work. We are counting on the Government of Sudan to guarantee the safety and security of all UN personnel and property and also of all humanitarian workers.

In conclusion, I'd like to reiterate my appreciation for the support extended by the French Government to the work of the UN. I am looking forward to continuing my consultations with President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner on these important issues. Thank you very much. I'll be happy to answer your questions.

Q: Monsieur le ministre, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, j'ai une question qui s'adresse au deux. Concernant le Soudan, est-ce que la France, est-ce que l'ONU sont prêts, vous êtes prêts à soutenir la Cour Internationale, la Cour Pénale Internationale, quelle qu'en soient les conséquences dans les poursuites qui sont enclenchées contre le Président du Soudan ou seulement dans la mesure où cela ne met pas en danger la solution politique que vous appelez de vos v?ux?

SG: Permettez-moi de répondre à votre question en anglais.

The International Criminal Court is an independent judiciary organ. Peace and justice are both very important elements and we need to respect and to promote peace and justice. Peace and justice should go hand in hand. At this time we have discussed in depth with the Foreign Minister how to address all these situations. At this time what is important is that the Sudanese Government do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and premises and all international humanitarian workers. I hope that the Sudanese Government will address this issue widely with the full cooperation of the United Nations.

Q: Concernant la situation au Proche Orient, est-ce qu'en tant que Secrétaire général vous croyez à la possibilité de la paix avant la fin de l'année comme les Américains et comme les Israéliens le disent. Comment s'expliquer que Monsieur Olmert soit plus optimiste que les Palestiniens?

SG: It's encouraging that both leaders, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, have been meeting regularly to build upon their agreement on the Annapolis peace process, I have been encouraging them to continue their consultations, and as we have seen, [there is] some encouraging development of the situation in the Middle East in general. For instance, for the election of a president and the formation of a unity Government in Lebanon, the agreement between Lebanon and Syria to launch a diplomatic process to establish diplomatic relations, and the indirect talks between Syria and Israel through the auspices of Turkish Government - those are all encouraging situations which they need to fully use in their whole effort to make progress in the Annapolis peace process. I sincerely hope there would be an agreement by the end of this year as agreed in Annapolis.

Thank you.