Secretary-General remarks to the press on Libya [scroll down for Arabic]
Los Angeles, California, USA, 21 February 2011SG: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I just wanted to speak with you about this ongoing situation in Libya. Like you and many others around the world, I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters. This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. There has been already bloodshed in Libya. This violence against demonstrators must immediately stop. As I said extensively to Colonel [Muammar] Qaddafi this morning over the phone, I urged him that human rights and freedom of assembly and freedom of speech must be fully protected. This is a fundamental principle of democracy. I sincerely hope that the current situation will be resolved peacefully through dialogue -- a broad-based dialogue involving all the parties concerned. I have been closely coordinating with world leaders on this matter. I have spoken to the King of Bahrain the other day, and I have also spoken to the top military leadership of Egypt. I'm going to dispatch senior officials to Egypt soon, and I sincerely hope that this will start reflecting the wishes and aspirations of the Libyan people. I understand that the Deputy Permanent Representative of Libya has called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council, and I understand that the Security Council is going to meet tomorrow morning. I hope again that the Security Council will take this matter on an urgent basis. First of all, the aspirations and concerns of the people should be fully respected and heard by the authorities of the countries concerned.
Q: You said you spoke to Colonel Qaddafi this morning. Did he give you any assurances or information about how he would respond to your request and the request of the international community?
SG: I forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators and I again strongly underlined the importance of respecting the human rights of those demonstrators and heeding their urgent aspirations and calls. He explained and characterized the events. But whatever the circumstances may be, I urged him to stop and respect human rights.
Q: There have been suggestions that Qaddafi might be preparing to leave Libya. Did you get any indication of that from your conversation with him?
SG: I have no information about that.
Q: How long did you speak with him?
SG: I spoke with him extensively. It was close to 40 minutes this morning.
Q: One of the issues is the reports of Libyan aircraft firing on protesters. There've been suggestions that some sort of 'no fly zone' should be called for. What do you think of that suggestion?
SG: This is something which the Security Council will have to decide.
Q: The U.N. has been criticized for not responding more forcefully and quickly about Libya. What can you tell us about that?
SG: I believe I'm the first person to have spoken to leader Colonel Qaddafi on this issue. I have been closely following the situation. As I have stated in my spokesperson's statement, I'm in close touch with leaders of the region and I'm going to continue to discuss this matter with other world leaders, including the leaders in the region.
Q: What would be your advice to their Government on what to do now?
SG: As I have been repeatedly saying, it is important and imperative that the leaders in the region should attentively listen to the aspirations, concerns and grievances of the people. And they should provide good opportunities for all the people - young people, and women. It is also imperative to immediately stop violence against peaceful demonstrators.
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