Remarks by the Secretary-General upon arrival at Headquarters
New York, 25 October 2002Q: Sir, we understand that negotiations are starting in a hard way about Iraq in the Security Council and that now even Russia and France are submitting their own version of a working paper. Do you feel that this is going to slow things down? What do you think about the state of negotiations now?
SG: First of all, we shouldn't forget that the resolution, the draft resolution, was given to the members only this week, on Monday. There's been lots of discussions in capitals between the P-5 but the Council as such just got the resolution. And I think there's going to be quite a lot of discussions amongst the members. And it's appropriate, because we're dealing with a very serious matter. It's democracy in practice; it takes a bit of time but with patience, we'll get an optimal decision.
Q: Did you also get a letter from the Iraqis yesterday about their position on the resolution? Could you comment on that and your response?
SG: I just got back. If there is a letter, I haven't had time to review it.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, there is a possibility we might not reach a resolution. Ari Fleischer said there is a 50-50 chance. Now, we understand from Hans Blix and El-Baradei that the only reason they are not there is because they don't want a resolution to come and change their mandate halfway. If we don't reach a resolution, an agreement – and I'm sure you'd like to see a unified Council – do you see any reason why they shouldn't go to Iraq straight away?
SG: In the first place, I do expect a Council resolution and I expect it to be unanimous. There's hard discussions going on, and I hope in the end they will be fruitful, and that the inspectors will go back to Iraq with the support of a united Council behind them.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the importance you attach to the Experts Panel Report?
SG: I think the Council had asked for two – this is the second report of its kind that has been produced for the Council. I think it is important we do everything to stop natural resources of countries being used for war. Or being the reason for people getting into war. A sort of war profiteering develops, and there's no interest in peace. I think the report given to the Council raises many serious questions that will have to be looked into very seriously not just by the Council but by governments in the region, and by the international community.
Q: What responsibility do foreign state governments have in terms of protecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the corporations that are named?
SG: I think that for a start they should try and ensure that minerals from Congo and the companies that have been mentioned are investigated, and are not encouraged to bring out the minerals from the Congo, and I would hope that there would be some way of putting a ban, an embargo on exports from there. We've done it in other situations and I hope that we can find some way of dealing with it in the Congo, either through a direct ban, or governments taking responsibility for companies that are registered in their countries to ensure that they did not behave irresponsibly.
Q: Sir, are you following the situation with the hostages in Moscow at all? Are you involved in that?
SG: I am following it very closely, and it is worrying. I think it is unreasonable and we cannot accept that innocent civilians should be trapped in this situation. Whatever the cause of the perpetrators, it cannot be justified that innocent civilians should be placed in this situation. I have demanded their immediate release and I hope in the end the perpetrators would also be made to account.