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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter

New York, 22 August 2011

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to see you again.

The dramatic scenes we are witnessing in Tripoli, Libya are a testament to the courage and determination of the Libyan people to seek a free and democratic future.

It is crucial now for the conflict to end with no further loss of life and retribution.

I welcome the assurances given by the Chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mr. Mustafa Abdul Jallil, that extreme care would be taken to protect people and public institutions, and to maintain law and order.

I call on Colonel Qadhafi's forces to cease violence immediately, and make way for a smooth transition.

The international community will continue to do its part to protect civilians from harm.

I have been in touch with the Chairperson of the African Union, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security and other world leaders.

Later today I will contact the President of the Security Council and P-5 members of the Security Council.

I intend to hold an urgent meeting this week among the heads of regional and international organizations, including the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the European Union.

My Special Envoy, Mr. Abdel Elah Al-Khatib, has been in close contact with the leadership of the NTC and will continue his efforts. He and my Special Advisor on Post Conflict Planning, Ian Martin, will travel to Doha to meet with the leadership of the NTC.

The United Nations stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the Libyan people.

For the past several months, Ian Martin has been working to ensure that the United Nations is ready to respond to requests Libya may make for post-conflict assistance.

The United Nations is now prepared to assist in all vital areas, including security and the rule of law; socio-economic recovery; constitution-making and the electoral process; human rights and transitional justice; and coordination of support from Libya's neighbours and the international community.

It will be crucial for the Security Council to be as responsive to post-conflict planning and needs, as it has been throughout the crisis.

We must also ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need.

This is a hopeful moment, but there are risks ahead. Now is the time for all Libyans to focus on national unity, reconciliation and inclusiveness.

I am determined to ensure that the United Nations does everything it can to promote an orderly transition that responds to the aspirations of the Libyan people for peace, democracy and opportunity.

Thank you very much, I will be happy to answer your questions.

Q: What exactly do you want from the Security Council, because you are calling on them to be responsive, but you haven't spelled out how. When will you have that high-level meeting that you just spoke about with the regional organizations? What do you want out of that? And are you seeking guarantees from the National Transitional Council to turn over to Colonel Qadhafi and his son and a third person to the ICC [International Criminal Court] rather than trying them at home? Where should they be tried? Should they be turned over and when?

SG: You have asked three questions?

Q: [inaudible?.following on what you said]

SG: My plan to hold an urgent international [meeting with] regional organizations this week will have to be coordinated with the leaders of these organizations. I have already spoken with three organizations, and now I'm talking about doing it either Thursday or Friday, but I have to confirm with all [what is convenient] with the people there. And it's important that we get a mandate from the Security Council. Mr. Ian Martin and our team have been working very closely, continuously during that last two, three months, since I have appointed him as my Special Adviser. There are many good planning [meetings] - good and comprehensive planning [meetings], including the idea of the presence of certain monitors - peace monitors. This has to be, first of all, in consultation with the Security Council members and in close consultation with the NTC. That is why I'm trying to talk with Mr. [Mustafa Abdel] Jalil, chairman of the NTC and I'm in the process of speaking to all of the world leaders. I've already spoken with some, but I'm not going to detail the names before I finish. For that matter, we'll have to discuss. The ICC has indicted Colonel Qadhafi for the violations and crimes against humanity. Therefore it is up to the ICC, and the international community has a duty - all the Member States of the United Nations have a duty, obligation, to fully comply with the decisions of the ICC. That is, I think, the natural way.

Q: Would you call Colonel Qadhafi to surrender? And I have another question, whether you talked to Mr. Abdel Jalil about giving a way out for Qadhafi and his forces from Bab al-Aziziya?

SG: I have already called Colonel Qadhafi's forces to give way for a smooth transition. I have spoken with the Prime Minister of Libya during the weekend and we had a very serious talk on this matter. And for your second part of the question, that we'll have to see how the situation will evolve. But these are all very important legal obligations on the part of those people who have been indicted.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, due to the actual situation in Tripoli, do you consider the military operation of NATO over, as of today?

SG: We'll have to see how NATO will assess the situation and NATO has been instrumental in implementing Security Council resolution 1970 and 1973, and I recognize their efforts to avoid civilian casualties in the course of their military operations. But this is up to NATO, based on the assessment of the situation.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the United States believes that Colonel Qadhafi is still in Libya. Does Mr. [Al] Khatib, or [is] anybody else from your side in touch with him, or do they know? Is he still in Libya, and have they talked to him about giving up? Where does it stand?

SG: I have no information on the whereabouts of Colonel Qadhafi, but I sincerely hope that we will be able to find him as soon as possible.

Q: Has Mr. [Al] Khatib been in touch with anybody over there?

SG: We've been trying to get in touch with him and I have also myself tried to speak with him recently. But, as you may expect and understand the situation, it has not been possible. Let us see.

Q: On Syria, you had said that President Assad said that military and police operations, when you spoke with him. Since then, according to Navi Pillay, 39 more people have been killed. Did you ever believe that statement? Do you believe it now and what should be done?

SG: This is what he clearly told me when I had the telephone talk with him and he assured me that the humanitarian assistance assessment team will be able to visit different places. And, as you know, our team is already in Syria - they are now assessing the situation. It is troubling that he has not kept his word. Many world leaders have been speaking to him to halt immediately military operations that are killing his own people, and he assured me [he would] do that and military operations have already stopped. Now he has seen and he has heard all these serious and urgent calls to him, and I sincerely hope that he heeds the international community's appeal and call.

Thank you very much.