Secretary-General's opening remarks at joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki [unofficial transcript]
Baghdad, Iraq, 22 March 2007Mr. Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, Assalam Alaikum,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here in this country. I am particularly pleased to make this visit to Iraq in this early stage of my tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I thank you very much for the warm welcome and hospitality of the Iraqi Government and people for my visit here.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I extend my warmest greetings to the people of Iraq and my deepest admiration for all contributions and commitments [they have made] to make this country more secure, prosperous, stable and democratic.
I have just had a very good meeting with His Excellency Prime Minster Al-Maliki on various issues including the current situation and the ways and means of how the United Nations and international community can help [the] Iraqi people to restore peace, security, prosperity, freedom and democracy.
I am here to reaffirm as such the strong commitment of the United Nations and international community for the Iraqi people and government [inaudible] such a very dedicated and challenging efforts.
Last Friday, March 16, 2007 in New York at the United Nations Headquarters, I and the Vice-President (Adel Abdul Mahdi) co-chaired the International Compact for Iraq. I was very much impressed and encouraged by the large turnout and participation of the international community. That was a strong commitment of the international community to see Iraq united, more prosperous and more democratic.
During my meeting with Prime Minister Al-Maliki, I appreciated his strong leadership and [the] Iraqi Government and peoples' such efforts. At the same time, I have [a] hope that Iraq's Government and the international community will continue to support such economic and social reconstruction efforts. [I hope that the] Iraqi Government and people will also engage in an all inclusive political process.
While such Iraqi efforts will continue for national reconciliation and dialogue, I will also hope that the countries in the region will constructively engage the Iraqi Government and people. The United Nations, as we have been doing during the last four years, will continue to provide such assistance and cooperation in the areas of economic, social, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance as well as helping the constitutional review process in the future. With such concerted efforts by the Iraqi Government and international community, I am confident, will be able to see in the near future more prosperous and secure and a politically and economically and healthy future for the Iraqi People and government.
Q: My question is addressed to the Secretary-General: Are there practical measures by the United Nations to deal with the issue of Iraqi refugees in the world, like providing support, including financial support?
SG: We are very concerned about IDPs and refugees and of course the security situation. The United Nations has been providing the necessary humanitarian assistance, and the High Commissioner for Refugees was recently in the region to assess the situation and we have decided to convene an international conference to help in such refugee problems on April 17th and 18th in Geneva.
Q: After you heard that the situating in Iraq has improved, is there an intention to expand the office of the United Nations in Iraq, and open offices in the governorates to restore levels of its (UN) work and expand its activities in Iraq? Another question addressed to Prime Minster Al-Maliki: Have you discussed the regional conference on Iraq?
SG: As I said, always the United Nations has been actively participating in helping the Iraqi people through various means in the areas of economic and political facilitation. However, recently the United Nations activities are somewhat constrained largely because of the situation on the ground. As we see improvement in the situation on the ground, I am considering to increase the presence of the United Nations .We have some [inaudible] areas like helping [the] Iraqi Government in political facilitation. We have already assisted and helped in two events of elections and drafting the constitution. We also helped [the] Iraqi government in the constitution review process, economic and social rehabilitation as well as humanitarian process. This is one of the subjects, which I have discussed, and I will consider on the basis of my assessment through the situation?
(Sound of explosion)
(The Prime Minster's interpreter continued interpretation into Arabic of the Secretary-General's answer)
PM Al-Maliki: (spoke in Arabic) The second question regarding the regional conference, yes, I discussed with the Secretary-General about the conference on the International Compact [for] Iraq which we have worked on. The Iraqi Government has worked for a long time in order to ensure an international solidarity (with Iraq) through the United Nations. The United Nations helped us in this. There is a good trend, which was noted by the Secretary-General, whereby the end of April will witness the convening of this conference that will support Iraq politically, economically and security wise. If this conference is convened, it will be the largest supporter and guarantor to go forward with the political process in Iraq and to establish communication channels to cooperate with the rest of organizations and the international community. Thank you.