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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General Joint Press Conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Canberra, Australia, 3 September 2011

SG: Thank you madame Prime Minister for your very warm welcome. This is a great pleasure for me to visit Australia at the beginning of Spring. It's a wonderful place and this is not my first visit to Canberra or Sydney. In my previous capacity as a foreign minister and other capacities I have visited many times and it's a great pleasure for me to visit as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the for the first time and I thank you very much for your flexibility for me to be able to participate in the Paris meeting on Libya and to make up for the loss, I''m going to visit twice in just one weeks time Australia. So I hope this will be a consolation for that. In fact, I like it so much I''ll try to come back as soon as possible.

Australia is a strong voice in international affairs working together with the United Nations in addressing many challenges which we face. In my meeting I highly commended the work of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for her leadership to work together with the UN in addressing all peace and security issues, development and human rights and always make a very important contribution. Australia is one of the strongest supporters of the United Nations and one of the best examples of how and what UN member states should and can do for the common interest of the international community.

You may be known as ''Down Under'', but when it comes to contribution and commitment you are well above and beyond. Australia is a founding member of the United Nations and Australians were instrumental in helping to formulate the United Nations Charter and I have many good historical records of how distinguished Australian diplomats have made contributions to the drafting of the Charter, human rights and women's empowerment and also the first president of the United Nations Security Council was served by a distinguished Australian. You continue this proud tradition with a record of leadership across a full range of our work from peacekeeping to global development to nuclear disarmament and I thank you very much for your announcement of providing distinguished soldiers and police officers to South Sudan.

Australia's support for our operations in Timor-Leste has been indispensable. Australia is critical to peacekeeping efforts from Afghanistan to Cyprus where you set the UN record for the longest UN deployment by any country. This is the 100th continuous deployment of peacekeeping operations in Cyprus, it is the highest record so far in the history of the United Nations. On foreign aid, Australia is increasing cooperation at a time when too many countries are pulling back and I thank you very much for your very generous contribution to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa by donating an additional $10 million. This will put you one of the very few - within number five, I think you are number four strongest supporter of this Horn of Africa crisis.

Australia's impulse for global cooperation that positive (inaudible) in people is what we need as we face the big challenges of our time. From here I will visit, as has been announced by the Prime Minister, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati before heading to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders'' Meeting in New Zealand.

Building a more sustainable future will be at the centre of my visit. Australia know better than many others how critical it is to live in balance with nature. The floods in Queensland and other natural disasters here show how extreme weather and climate change are real and growing threats. Your neighbours are even more vulnerable. Whole islands could be lost if sea levels continue to rise. Later this year, countries will meet in Durban, South Africa. We need ambitious targets to keep the rise in average global temperatures below two degrees centigrade. We need to move forward on adaptation. That means countries must live to their abilities and responsibilities. Time is of the essence. It has been nearly two decades since the world met in Rio de Janeiro for the first summit. Next year the leaders of the world meet in Rio de Janeiro for (inaudible) meeting and I have invited Prime Minister Gillard to participate herself. I hope you will take my invitation positively. With so much at stake this is not the time for gamesmanship. This is the time to work together to get real results.

Finally, since I am coming from the Paris meeting on Libya, let me say a few words about the situation there. I continue to urge all countries to come together to help the Libyan people. The United Nations'' response rests on three fundamental principals. First, national ownership. The future of Libya should be decided by Libyan people and I have met with the Chairman of NCT, Mr Jalil and head of (inaudible) together and we discussed what their needs and priorities would be and we will reflect on and respect these priorities. Second: Rapid response and delivery. We are working to make sure the United Nations can respond swiftly to requests by the Libyan authorities. This includes restoring public security and order and promoting rule of law, promoting inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation and protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups and assessing electoral processes and also facilitating the constitution making. Our third principal is effective coordination. We are working closing with the country's leadership to ensure that confusion and duplication of effort are kept to a minimum. We have to avoid all duplications. On these challenges and many others we depend of the support of Australia. At this critical moment in history when so much is at stake for people in developed and developing countries I am here to say to Australia, we need your ideas, your experience and your continued commitment. I count on Australia to be a vital partner is meeting the expectations of the world's people for freedom, opportunity and a life of dignity everyone deserves and I thank you very much.

Questions and Answers:

Q: Mr Ban, you mentioned Australia's record on human rights, Australia was planning to send asylum seekers to Malaysia, a country that's not a signatory to your convention on refugees. What does that say about Australia's human rights record and are we fit to be on the Security Council given that?

SG: Australia is one of the model countries in many areas which the United Nations is promoting. Peace and security, as I said, development and human rights. Of course, there are some concerns on how to deal with immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees and of course, you know, I highly commend the recent endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I hope that the Australian Government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, will translate all of these principals and endorsements on the rights of indigenous peoples into policies, into real actions and again, for all of this human rights related issues, I believe that Australia can lead by example. If you have any specific questions, the United Nations is always ready to walk together through the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and I''m also discussing this matter with all the member states of the United Nations.

Q: Your Excellency, how was your meeting with Mr Rudd and following on from that question, do you think that Australia does deserve a temporary seat on the UN Security Council?

SG: Well I am aware of very ardent aspirations and wishes of the Australian Government to contribute further to common interests and ideas of the United Nations by serving on the Security Council of the United Nations. In fact, this is something which needs to be determined by the member states and not by the Secretary-General but as far as I''m concerned, as the Secretary-General, I''m very grateful for what the Australian Government has been leading by example in addressing in the forefront of peace and security and development and human rights and I hope that the Australian Government and diplomats will work hard to convince member states to get those contributes recognised by the member states. This is my wish. Thank you.

Q: Are you concerned that Turkey has expelled the Israeli Ambassador and also, how likely is it that Libya would descend into chaos at this juncture?

SG: I sincerely hope that Israel and Turkey will improve their relationship. During last the last year, particularly since the instance of the flotilla on May 31st last year happened, I have been really trying to help them to improve their relationship. All the countries are very important countries in the region and their improved relationship, normal relationship will be very important in addressing all the situations in the Middle East, including the Middle East peace process, not to mention their bilateral relationship. As you know, I have established the flotilla panel of experts led by the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Palmer. The report is out – I''m not is a position to say any specific comments on the substance of the findings and recommendations of panel reports. My only wish is that they should try to improve their relationship and do whatever they can to implement the recommendations and findings of this panel's report.

Q: (inaudible)

SG: I have not yet received the letter, that specific letter but I''m sure that I''ll receive it and I''ll read and try to find out what I should do but even before reading the letter I can say that this mining and reprocessing of this mineral like uranium, this very important, very serious issue should be done according to all scientific processes ad recommended by the IAEA. That is why I''d like to emphasise the importance of the high level meeting on nuclear safety and nuclear security which I am going to convene on September 22nd in the United Nations. I visited Fukushima, Japan and I had discussed this matter with the former Prime Minister Naoto and many other leaders of the Japanese Government and scientific communities. My visit to Japan and my recent visit to Kazakhstan last year as well as Ukraine where I could see all the impacts of how important this nuclear management and disasters. It has strengthened my conviction that the international community, particularly the United Nations, led by the IAEA, should do all we can to strengthen the safety codes of nuclear materials and nuclear energies and that is why I''m going to discuss this matter.

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