Secretary-General's joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Italy, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Prime Minister of Lebanon (Secretary-General's remarks only)
Rome, 26 July 2006SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I think the Foreign Minister has indicated the nature of the discussions through the chairman's summary. And I think it is important that, as we leave this meeting, we continue the urgent effort to help bring peace and stability to that region.
It is important that we get a political framework that will buttress whatever understanding that we reach eventually through the Security Council and through discussions with countries involved.
It is important that we work with the countries of the region to find a solution and that should also include Iran and Syria.
It is important that we get early and quick contributions for the international force that may eventually be sent to the region to help stabilize southern Lebanon, to allow Lebanon, the Government of Lebanon, time and space to prepare its own troops, and be able to extend its authority throughout the country, and to bring under governmental authority all the weapons and guns in the country. As is said in a location not too far away, “One gun, one authority.”
And I would hope that as we move forward, not only would we agree on the political settlement, we will take immediate action to assist on the humanitarian front. And some of you know that I have asked the Council to consider urgent action on cessation of hostilities. And this group has also endorsed the need for urgent action to stop the hostilities so that we can move into the longer-term mold and be able to deploy troops.
I think we will pause here and maybe give the floor to [the] other participants.
Q: James Rosen, with Fox News, representing the U.S. media. Forgive my bedraggled appearance. I think the beautiful weather in Rome is better enjoyed outdoors than inside.
I, first, have a question that I would like each of you to address, and then just one for Secretary-General Annan.
Will the multinational force in Lebanon be deployed before Hezbollah is disarmed?
And, Secretary-General Annan, I would also like you to address your statement of last night, in which you effectively accused the Israelis of deliberately killing four UN personnel. Do you believe a statement like that enhances your role as an honest broker of peace?
SG: I don't want to say anything about the force. I think you've got a full answer.
But as to your second question, let me say that I hope you read my statement and read it very carefully, because when you quote pieces in a press conference it has to be accurate.
The statement said "apparently deliberate target." You dropped the word "apparent." I think it's important in this.
Let me say that I have had the chance to talk to the Prime Minister of Israel this morning. He definitely believes it's a mistake. He has undertaken to investigate and I have suggested we do a joint investigation. And he has expressed his deep sorrow at what happened, and we accept that.
But you need to look at the events of yesterday. The shelling of the UN position, which is long-established and clearly marked, started early in the morning and went on till after 7 p.m., when we lost contact.
And our General and troops – people on the ground – were in touch with the Israeli army, warning them, “Please be careful. We have positions here. Don't harm our people.” And many calls went out until this happened.
And you can imagine the anguish of the soldiers and the men and women – unarmed military observers – who were down there in the service of peace.
And as I said, we await the investigations – end of the investigations. And I'm grateful for the Prime Minister for what he has said, and we accept his words.
But do quote accurately next time, please.