Secretary-General's press encounter
Washington, DC, 2 May 2004Q: What are your reactions to the photos of the US and British soldiers allegedly beating Iraqi prisoners ?
SG: I was rather deeply concerned about that and, as I said, in all these situations, when it comes to the treatment of prisoners of war, we have to respect international humanitarian law.
I am encouraged that the US Government is taking it seriously and intends to discipline those involved. And I think that is extremely important, because the images going around the world have been damaging.
Q: How difficult do you think this will be, how many problems this will this create for the British and the Americans involved ? And do you think the US Government is taking a strong enough stand to both investigate and discipline them ?
SG: I think we are at the early stages yet, and I hope they will take a strong and firm stand to ensure that those kinds of activities are not repeated, because it does do damage, as you can see from reactions in the region.
And, of course, the US is in Iraq, as it has indicated, to also try and establish democracy and law and order, and rule of law. And so it is important that it should be seen as dealing very firmly with this.
Q: I was wondering whether the June 30th take over date is realistic. You said earlier that you hoped that things would turn out well after June 30th, but do you think it is a realistic goal ?
SG: I think the date has been declared and the Iraqis, who are keen to see the end of the occupation, are counting very much on that date. Any attempt to pull it back can be difficult and can raise tensions. So I believe we should do everything to make sure that the June deadline is met. We are there trying to facilitate and work with the Iraqis and the CPA to come up with a new government. And we hope the new government, as I said, will be a product of these consultations between the Iraqis.
Q: And do you see a general international force going in there by the UN to help the situation stabilize ?
SG: I expect that the establishment of a multinational force, or the continued presence of the multinational force, will be part of the new Security Council resolution, which will be passed between now and June.
Off-the-Cuff on 2 May 2004