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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's joint press encounter with United States Senator John Kerry

Washington, D.C., 7 April 2011

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Senator Kerry.

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for this opportunity.

I have had the privilege of working with Senator Kerry in his capacity as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate.

It has been a great honour for me and a great source of encouragement for the United Nations to work with such a distinguished leader in the American Senate.

We have discussed many issues starting from Afghanistan to Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, nuclear issues and I thank [you for] your leadership. In fact, I cannot agree more on what you have just mentioned on all of the subject matters we have discussed - that will give only great strength to the United Nations and to my role as a Secretary General.

This morning, I met the House Foreign Affairs Committee members and I have just finished a productive session with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

My meetings have focussed on the United Nations and the United States working together in common cause. How we can strengthen our mutual working relationship and how we can get stronger support from the United States in working together for implementing global causes.

We discussed the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. The international community will continue to press for respecting the democratic will of the Ivoirian people. We will continue to protect the innocent civilians and we will try to bring those who commit mass atrocities to justice.

What happens in Côte d'Ivoire has huge implications for a continent that will have sixteen presidential elections for this year.

We also discussed the development in Afghanistan, including the loss of UN staff last week. Thank you very much for your very kind words of sympathy. That also gives great strength to our staff.

There, too, I thank Chairman Kerry and so many other members of the Congress and Senate for their support and solidarity. Afghanistan is a critical mission at a critical time. We will not be deterred in our work, but our people need to be protected.

Finally, I spoke about the imperatives in this new era of austerity. I know that the American Congress and Government are in the middle of [a] financial budget debate. Hard economic times mean we all must tighten our belts. We must do better with less.

This is what I have also explained to the Senators. The United Nations is fully conscious of all the international community going through this era of austerity. That is why I have instructed my senior advisors to come up with appropriate plans to reduce our budget by 3 percent. At the same time, we need to have robust financial support from the United States. Only with global financial support, will the UN have the capacity to work together to implement and achieve the goals and ideas which the United Nations and United States share together.

On all issues, we agreed [that] investing in the United Nations yields an outsized return.

By working with the United Nations, no country needs to tackle big challenges alone and no country is alone in footing the bill.

Again, thank you very much for your leadership and support.

Thank you.

Q: Let's start with the Ivory Coast [inaudible] the UN is doing right now [inaudible] Gbagbo still in compound [inaudible]. Are you worried about a long drawn out situation there?

SG: As you know, we have taken some limited military measures in the last few days in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolution to protect the civilian population and in exercising self-defence, because the United Nations patrols have been attacked and the United Nations Headquarters has been attacked last Saturday. So we had to take necessary measures. Our military measures were successful. However, Mr. Gbagbo is still persisting in his residence.

It is absolutely necessary at this time that, before [it is] too late, he has to cede his power to a democratically elected leader, Mr. Quattara. He has to mind - if he believes he was a leader of the Ivory Coast for some time – then he has to mind the well-being and safety and security and prosperity of his people, where he was once the president.

This is his last opportunity to gracefully exit from this. I urge again that he should do all [that] he can do, as an Ivory Coast citizen.

Q: [inaudible] On Latin America and war on drugs.

SG: Recently I have visited several countries in the region and I realize that there are still many security concerns caused by organized crime and narco-drug trafficking.

These are all common concerns in that country, not to mention Mexico. It is absolutely necessary that, first of all, the government's leaders should establish all rule and law and take all necessary measures to establish security there.

The international community has also to cooperate. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime is very closely coordinating with countries in Latin America, but I believe that neighbouring countries and the whole international community should cooperate.

The idea is to have regional cooperation. It is important to address and eliminate this organized crime.


Off-the-Cuff on 7 April 2011