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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter after meeting President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Brasilia, Brazil, 12 November 2007

SG: I had a very good discussion with President Lula, which continued through a working luncheon. I expressed my sincere appreciation for his invitation and very generous and kind hospitality during my stay.

Our discussions focused on several issues, like the strong partnership between the United Nations and Brazil, how to realize the MDG [Millennium Development Goal] targets, climate change issues, and the Central Emergency Response Fund. All these were on the agenda which we have discussed. I am very satisfied with the result of my discussions

First, concerning the UN-Brazilian partnership, I expressed my appreciation and commended the strong commitment and contributions made by the Brazilian Government in peacekeeping operations, particularly in MINUSTAH in Haiti. As you may know, the Force Commander is Brazilian General Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, with 1,400 soldiers there. They have made a great contribution in securing the stability and peace in Haiti. I also commended the role they have played in other areas, in Timor-Leste and Guinea-Bissau. President Lula assured me that they would continue to work closely with the United Nations in providing necessary contributions to peacekeeping.

On the MDGs, I commended the progress the Brazilian Government has been making in the area of eradication of extreme poverty and primary education and sanitation. Brazil has shown some exemplary movement in terms of making very steady and good progress. We discussed an idea of holding another high-level meeting sometime next year to galvanize and generate political will among the leaders for an early realization of the MDGs. I told him that I'm in the process of working very closely with the President of the General Assembly and the leaders of all the countries to discuss the exact modalities and format of this meeting. President Lula expressed his strong support for this idea.

On climate change, I [spoke] about my own visit to Antarctica and my visit to the ethanol plant yesterday. I told him that I'm looking forward to visiting the Amazon River Basin to see for myself the preservation of the forests. And I commended the role and achievement the Brazilian Government has been making in the area of biofuels, particularly in the area of ethanol fuels. President Lula expressed to me his strong support for the international community working together to address global warming issues. On ethanol/biofuel issues, he assured me that he has committed not to use food products for fuel purposes, and on the Amazon River, that the forest will be preserved. I commended him on the very successful preservation of the Brazilian Government in the Amazon River as well as in the area of making progress on biofuels.

I requested some active participation and more generous contributions to the Central Emergency Response Fund, [to] which the Brazilian Government has [already]been making contributions to. I told him that, as we have been experiencing natural disasters on an unexpectedly big scale these days, that the United Nations needs to have these resources and funds. I asked for more contributions from the Brazilian Government, and I'm sure the Brazilian Government will participate more.

These are some of the issues which I have discussed with President Lula.

Q: Before my colleagues ask more about your meeting with Lula, I was wondering if you could comment briefly on the situation in Pakistan. President Musharraf has announced yesterday that he will hold elections by mid-January. He has not lifted the state of emergency. Two opposition parties are likely to boycott the elections. (inaudible) What is your message to President Musharraf at this point?

SG: I think it is a positive progress. However, I would hope that the Pakistani Government will do more to further the lifting of the emergency measures as well as releasing detained political leaders, particularly the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations. I again urge the Pakistani leadership to meet the expectations of the international community in further realizing the democratization process of Pakistan.

Q: You have said many times that the road to Bali goes through Brazil. Did you raise this issue with President Lula and did he tell you what kind of platform he would be taking to Bali?

SG: In general, I commended the leadership role Brazil has been playing. Brazil is a leading champion in the area of doing research and development in biofuel. And were it not for the Rio Summit meeting in 1992, the environment summit, we would not have been able to make this progress which we have been making. I really hope that the Brazilian Government will make more contributions. As I have said repeatedly, the climate change issue is a worldwide issue; it needs worldwide concerted efforts to address this issue. In that regard, I hope the Brazilian Government has been making great strides, and therefore, I commended?As I said yesterday, Brazil is a quiet green giant in terms of making contributions in sustainable environment issues.

Q: On Brazil and biofuels, there have been some concerns that this could lead to deforestation, that it could lead to some ecological imbalance if Brazil does continue to grow more and more sugarcane, especially in the Amazon. I'm wondering if you think the benefits of biofuel outweigh the risks it poses to the environment?

SG: I know that research and development on biofuels is surrounded by some controversies, even criticisms on the impact on food security. At the same time, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I think eradicating extreme poverty and hunger should also be a very important agenda [item]. While I welcome, and while I'm encouraged by all this recent progress, biofuels hold great promise in our common efforts to develop renewable and alternate sources of energy while we are addressing global warming issues. At the same time, I would hope that the international community should have some broad discussions on this issue, how we can balance between the needs of developing renewable and alternate sources and addressing food security issues through pricing or food production and other sustainable development issues. I know that it is necessary and desirable for scientists to think creatively on this issue.