Secretary-General's press encounter after his briefing to the Security Council [unofficial transcript]
New York, 6 February 2007SG: I attended the informal Security Council meeting to brief on my recent visit to Africa. I explained about my meeting with President [Omar Al-]Bashir of Sudan to make the process faster on the introduction of a hybrid [force], and I was encouraged that, out of my meeting with President Bashir, there was an agreement to re-energize the political process, led by my Special Envoy, Mr. Jan Eliasson, and the AU Special Envoy, Mr. Salim Ahmed Salim. They will be visiting Khartoum and Darfur starting from February 11 to 17. On the basis of their recommendations and report, we will discuss again what next steps should be taken.
I also briefed the members of the Security Council that, during my meeting with President Bashir of Sudan, I told him that he should respond, as soon as possible, positively to my letter of 24 January, outlining all the detailed conditions on force generation and command and control and funding. The next step is to wait for a positive and clear agreement from the Government of Sudan, which will pave the way toward the deployment of hybrid operations in Darfur. I also discussed with the members the situation in Somalia and the situation in DRC [the Democratic Republic of the Congo], and Côte d'Ivoire. It was a very useful exchange of views, and we discussed and exchanged views on what steps should be taken, particularly on the Darfur crisis. If you have any questions?.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, were you satisfied by the responses you got from the Sudanese President concerning the deployment of the international hybrid force in Darfur?
SG: I had a very useful and constructive meeting with President Bashir, but I am still waiting for his positive answer to my letter of 24 January. On the basis of that, with a clear understanding and agreement, we can proceed to Phase Three.
Q: On Somalia, does the Secretariat feel that the Transitional Federal Government is reaching out sufficiently to the remainder of the Islamic Courts or to opponents in the country?
SG: In my meeting with President [Abdullahi] Yusuf, I encouraged him to have an inclusive political process, including the moderate members of the Islamic Courts and clan elders and political leaders, community leaders, and I was encouraged by his intention to convene a reconciliation congress. This is the right thing for him to do.
At the same time, I am also encouraged by the willingness of African countries to provide troops. I hope the African Union will be able to have AMISOM [the African Union Mission in Somalia] well in place. I discussed with the members on this matter. There was a request from the African Union that AMISOM should be taken over by the United Nations. But this is a subject we will discuss later on, as we see how the AU is placed in Somalia.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did you receive a letter from the Government of [President Fouad] Siniora on the tribunal, and also the letter from [President Emile] Lahoud? Could you confirm the letter? Are you ready to apply Chapter VII for the implementation of the tribunal?
SG: This matter is something to be discussed by the members of the Security Council. As I told you yesterday, I am considering the special tribunal issue; we have received a document from the Lebanese Government, and we hope that the Lebanese Government will take the necessary measures to be able to ratify this process, in accordance with their constitutional requirements.
Q: You've been in office for over a month now, and I'm wondering how is the job different than you imagined it, going in, and how well do you think your performance has been?
SG: I think the first month in office has been very hectic, including my trip to African countries and European countries during the last eleven days, and I have been enjoying my work. It's a new experience, it is very tough and hectic, but I think I have been doing quite well in discharging my duties as Secretary-General. I know that there were some concerns or criticism by certain media about the way I have being doing, but I think I have been doing what I should do as Secretary-General. I know that there is some impatience on certain staff or even media about the delayed appointment of senior managers. I am going to do it pretty soon. In fact, even though it was not an arbitrary deadline, I tried to do it in line with my restructuring of the Organization; but yesterday, during my General Assembly session, I told the Member States that I do not have any intention to set an arbitrary deadline, and I'm going to announce the existing positions of senior appointments soon.
Q: Could you tell us your recommendation to the Security Council on Côte d'Ivoire?
SG: On Côte d'Ivoire, I briefed the members of the [Security] Council that I had a good meeting with President [Laurent] Gbagbo, and while I appreciated the peace plan initiative by President Gbagbo, that should be harmonized with Security Council resolution 1721. And I also encouraged them to have fruitful dialogue -- it was encouraging that he also would engage in dialogue with his political leaders, including Mr. [Guillaume] Soro.
Q: Considering what you found when you came back from two weeks overseas, was it wise to go overseas for such a long time while the re-organization is shaping up, so early in your tenure?
SG: I think it was a very useful and necessary trip for me, as I place African challenges on the top of my agenda. It was very important for me first of all to attend the African Union Summit meeting, where I had the unique opportunity of meeting many of the African leaders, and met many African leaders in person, including President [Omar Al-] Bashir of Sudan and many other leaders who are involved in regional political issues. At the same time, it was very rewarding for me to witness at first hand the challenges and issues of Africa.
Of course at [UN] headquarters, there were many important issues, but those issues were well taken care of by senior managers, including the Chef de Cabinet, and I have since yesterday begun my consultation process with Member States on the restructuring of this Organization.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, have you formally accepted any of the fifty-odd resignations which you requested? And in that same sense, have you been able to tell some people here that you will not be offering them UN jobs, so that they can start to look for employment elsewhere?
SG: I'm going to do it pretty soon and when I announce the appointment of senior managers, the other persons will be retained, but those senior persons who will have to leave their positions will be notified in due course.
Q: The US characterized the Chinese [President's] trip to Sudan as too soft on Sudan, especially on the humanitarian situation. What is your view on that?
SG: The President of China, Hu Jintao, I was told had a very good and successful visit to Sudan, according to a briefing by the Chinese Ambassador today. The Chinese President also had very good discussions on these tougher issues. I'm not in fact here to represent what the Chinese President has done, but I was told, and it was very encouraging, that the Chinese President had engaged in very serious discussions to let the Sudanese government know the urgency and the importance of resolving this issue as soon as possible.