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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press conference in Rio de Janeiro [unofficial transcript]

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 27 May 2010

SG: Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,

Estou muito feliz de estar outra vez no Brasil.

(I am very glad to be in Brazil once again.)

Brazil is an outstanding Member State of the United Nations, a regional leader, and a growing global power.

As a member of the Security Council, Brazil plays an important role in addressing many global threats and challenges.

We need look no further than the recent diplomatic effort by Brazil and Turkey to help resolve international tensions over Iran's nuclear programme. I welcome this and all efforts to find a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.

The Third Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations is another example of Brazil's bridge-building role. Your country's diversity makes it a natural host.

You are a melting pot of cultures with much to show and share with the world.

Brazil has also demonstrated a remarkable commitment to peacekeeping operations.

Over 2,000 Brazilians – military and police – are serving in eight peacekeeping operations around the globe--including your pivotal role in Haiti.

As you know, that is where the United Nations suffered its greatest loss in our history. One out of every five of the UN victims were Brazilian.

I am grateful for the chance to meet some of the families of the fallen later today and to convey my deep gratitude for their service and solidarity.

Solidarity is indeed a hallmark of Brazil, and your country is at the forefront of South-South cooperation.

Brazil is making significant progress in eradicating extreme poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“Fome Zero” (Zero Hunger) and “Bolsa Familia” have made a real difference.

This country is also home to one of the greatest ecosystems and forests of the planet.

There can be no solution to the climate change challenge that does not include Brazil.

And Brazil has taken up that challenge. You are one of the cleanest energy economies in the world and a global leader in renewable energy.

I am pleased to be here to explore how we can strengthen our cooperation going forward.

Finally, one last major international issue.

It is not easy to show leadership in this particular area, but Brazil has done it many times over. I know that you are ready to lead once more.

So let me wish Brazil all the best in the upcoming World Cup!

Muito Obrigado.

Q: Good morning, Mr. Secretary-General, Brian Elsworth from Reuters. I have two questions. You have expressed optimism that nuclear fuel swap agreement brought by Brazil and Turkey with Iran could help resolve the tension between Iran and the West over its nuclear programme. This deal has been criticized by a number of Western powers, including Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. Do you remain optimistic that this deal can improve the situation between Iran and the West? My second question [is with] regard [to] North and South Korea. You have recommended the Security Council to take appropriate action to reduce the tensions between those two countries. Could you give us more details about what are the actions Security Council should take? Thank you.

SG: On Iranian nuclear development issues, I'm sure that everybody agrees that his has become one of the greatest sources of concerns of the international community. In that regard, I welcome and appreciate the diplomatic efforts of President Lula and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, for their diplomatic efforts to resolve these issues at peaceful negotiation. I know there is a difference of opinions and difference of approaches [on] how to deal with this matter.

If this package deal, facilitated by President Lula and Prime Minister Erdogan, follows up with the broader engagement of the IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency - and the international community it can be a positive step toward a negotiated settlement. At the same time, at the heart of this crisis, [there] seems to be a serious lack of confidence and trust on Iran. Iran has at the same time declared that they would continue the enrichment process of 20 per cent purity uranium. That has caused serious concerns [for] the international community, particularly the Vienna Group.

As the Secretary-General, I have been repeatedly urging to the Iranian authorities that they have to clear their nuclear programme, that it is exclusively for peaceful purposes, and it is not meant for military purposes, and they should fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions. Therefore there seem to be two approaches. While it is important to have confidence-building measures, at the same time there should be a permanent resolution of this issue. Between this confidence-building and permanent resolution, I hope there is some balance, [it] needs to be further discussed between and among the parties.

Now, I sincerely hope that Iran will continue to discuss this with the P5 +1 countries.

The second question about the tensions caused by the DPRK's torpedoing [of] a South Korean naval ship. I have been very closely following and monitoring the situation. And I have made my positions quite clear. The facts and evidences made out by the joint international investigation team are very compelling and overwhelming. That is why I have asked the Security Council, in fulfilling their responsibility to keep peace and stability of the international community, should take necessary measures keeping in mind the gravity of this situation. I sincerely hope that this will be taken up by the Security Council and the international community.

At the same time, I would like to make it quite clear that I am speaking as a Secretary-General of the United Nations, and I have been trying to resolve all the issues objectively and fairly in a responsible manner. I have hope that the Security Council would take the necessary measures but I have not said anything of which or what kind of measures they should take. That is the prerogative, responsibility and role of the Security Council. There should be no misunderstanding about that.

Q: I also have a question regarding Iran's nuclear programme, and that is whether you think Security Council sanctions at this moment, considering Iran has agreed to make certain concessions, would be an effective way to convince Iran to cooperate with international community and also whether approving sanctions, Brazil would run the risk of isolating itself from the international community?

SG: I think if and when the Iranian authorities make it quite clear that they will fully cooperate with the IAEA and clear any concerns raised by their statement that they will continue 20 per cent of uranium enrichment process, then if they would declare that they would cease this process, I think that would be helpful promoting mutual trust and confidence, particularly on the part of the Iranians. I know that members of the Security Council are seriously discussing what kind of future actions should be taken, including sanction measures, that is what they will continue to discuss and I do not have any comment on that.

Q: Good morning. I would like to ask about the situation on the Koreas also. What can the Security Council do to achieve the permanent peace between the Koreas? And a second question, if possible, I would like to ask how is the United Nations Security Council reform proceeding and what is the possibility of Brazil gaining a permanent seat on this Council and when might this be? Thank you.

SG: The Security Council, in accordance with the relevant provisions and articles, has a primary responsibility to maintain peace and security and to take any measures to address threats to international peace and security, including these nuclear issues and any other matters which may threaten peace and security. That is within the purview of the Security Council. They can take any measures, including sanction measures. Therefore as the Secretary-General of the United Nations I believe that it is their prerogative, right and responsibility to take measures.

On the Security Council reform, this has been a long standing issue and even [an] aspiration of Member States. There's a widely-shared view that considering tremendous changes in the international political scene that the Security Council should be reformed so that they could better and more efficiently address all the issues, all the challenges. For that, I think there is almost a consensus of views among Member States. The United Nations General Assembly has taken a decision that this long-standing issue should be discussed in an informal forum, in a informal setting, in an intergovernmental negotiation. In fact they have had several rounds intergovernmental negotiation at the informal General Assembly setting – soon I believe, that they would be able to continue the negotiation based on texts.

The facilitator of the Security Council reform was asked to provide, to compile the views of various Member States on how the Security Council should be reformed and he is – I understand – in the process of the compiling and making a text so that the Member States can negotiate based on this text. I sincerely hope that the Member-States would be able to agree on a consensus formula for how the Security Council can be reformed.

I know that Brazil is one of the aspirants to serve as a permanent member of the Security Council. There are various formulas and ideas put forward by the Member-States. Now I hope that Member States will discuss this matter more in a serious manner.

Q: I''d prefer to do this in Portuguese. Two questions on issues that have been in the background because of the situation in Korea and Iran. I would like to know the opinion of the Secretary-General in relation to the UN plan for Palestine, if there is some expectation of a resolution in the short-term. And another question regarding something that has been very forgotten – Western Sahara. Is there a concrete perspective about a referendum there?

SG: It is always desirable to broaden the scope and vision of your interest and concern for other matters. On the Palestinian issue, the United Nations has been dealing with this issue during the last six decades. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see any resolution so far. This is one of the top priorities, as one of the core elements of realizing comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East. I have been discussing and dealing with this matter, not only with the Palestinian leadership, but also all Arab leaders and major partners, as one of the principals of the Quartet and as Secretary-General. The United Nations has been taking many important resolutions. The Security Council and General Assembly have taken many important resolutions. But it is a matter of political will.

Those resolutions have been not fully implemented yet, because of the lack of political will of the parties concerned. And therefore, at this time, it will be very important to generate a recommitment, a heightened political will. It is encouraging that the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian authorities have been launched and it has had two rounds of discussion, with the facilitation of United States. I myself have also engaged to facilitate these proximity talks. Proximity talks cannot be in itself an end. This should lead to direct negotiation between the two parties concerned. It is really a core element of the Middle East peace process.

Overall of peace in the Middle East has always been a source of concern but at this time we have seen some relative peace and some encouraging development of situations, as we have seen in Lebanon, and we have seen some improvement of the relationship in Lebanon and Syria and these proximity talks [are] going on. Therefore, we need to give more political support to this one.

On the Western Sahara issue – that is also a quite long-standing unresolved issue, and as you know there was a fifth round of dialogue between the parties concerned in New York last February. My Personal Envoy, Mr. Christopher Ross, has been visiting the region during the month of March and he has been received by the Heads of State of the concerned parties and I have been discussing this matter with parties concerned again, including the Secretary-General of Frente Polisario, the Moroccan leadership, the Spanish and Algerians, and the European Union, and I'm trying to facilitate, to promote, the political conducive atmosphere so that the parties concerned can again engage in dialogue.

At the same time, we are paying attention in promoting human rights, protecting and promoting human rights. We are concerned that violation of human rights in both sides of the region and I am urging all the parties concerned to protect the human rights of Saharawiis. Thank you very much.

Q: Good morning, Secretary-General. I''m Rodri go Viga, I''m from Reuters and Radio Jovem Pan de Sao Paulo. I would like to make two questions. Considering the recent military exercises near the border between the two Koreas, do you thinks there is a possibility of an armed conflict or there is still room for a peaceful solution?

The second question is specifically about Brazil, including about President Lula. You spoke about social programmes like Bolsa Família in this campaign of the eradication of poverty, you spoke about the importance of President Lula in the mediation of international conflicts one of them involving Iran. I would like to know whether you are in favor of Brazil being a permanent member of the Security Council and, dealing with this new international financial order, that other developing countries are also represented there? There is talk that even after the end of President Lula mandate, he could be invited by the UN to exercise any function within an organization, and I would like to know if that fact or not.

SG: On the situation on the Korean peninsula, I don't want to even imagine that may be some armed conflict. All the issues, pending issues, must be resolved through dialogue in a peaceful manner. That is a firm principle which both leaders, of South and North Korea have agreed and which the parties to the six-party talks have agreed. Therefore, I sincerely hope that all these issues will be resolved peacefully. And as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will continue to exercise my role and whenever it is necessary and required, I will also do my own [inaudible]. On Brazil's role, clearly Brazil is not only a regional leader but is also an emerging global player. And that is what President Lula and under his leadership Brazilian government has been playing and has been much appreciated by the world.

We have seen most recently this [Turkish] facilitation role of Iranian nuclear issues and Brazil has been actively participating and contributing to many peacekeeping operations, at least eight missions around the world, with 2,200 [peacekeepers], with a lot a noble sacrifices that we have appreciated. Brazil has been a leading exemplary role in realizing Millennium Development Goals, you have achieved already [...] success in Millennium Development Goals – one in reducing abject poverty and providing education and opportunities to young students. You have been making great strides in the Millennium Development Goals pillars. That is quite commendable and I sincerely hope that Brazil will continue to lead by example and many other countries should follow suit, of Brazil.

Again, on this aspiration of Brazilian government to serve as a permanent member of the Security Council, as I told you there has been a quite encouraging negotiating process and Brazil is one of the G-4 countries that has been actively participating in negotiations and also trying to speak with Member States of the United Nations. However, at this time, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I'm not in a position to endorse or not endorse any particular cuontry's membership to the Security Council. That is a decision by Member States of the United Nations.

But as the Secretary-General, I have been always trying to create an atmosphere favourable to negotiations going in the right direction. That I will continue to do.

Thank you very much. Muito obrigado