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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks to the press [scroll down for Q&A]

Kuwait City, Kuwait, 28 March 2012

I am pleased to visit Kuwait for the second time soon after I have started my second term as Secretary-General.
 
This morning, I had a very constructive exchange of views on matters of our common concern with His Highness Emir. And today, I had the pleasure of meeting with senior officials of the Foreign Ministry, headed by the Under-Secretary. 
 
Kuwait is an important and very strong partner of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security, development and human rights. As you will agree, Kuwait is a very vibrant, democratic country with a free press. I’m very pleased and encouraged to see that the recent Parliamentary election was conducted successfully in a credible and democratic way. They have set an example, good example at this time of momentous change in the Arab world.
 
During the course of my meetings with His Highness Emir and senior government officials, we discussed a wide range of regional issues including the crisis in Syria, the Arab League Summit meeting, which is now taking place in Baghdad, and Kuwait-Iraq relations and the partnership between the United Nations and Kuwait.
 
I welcome the progress in normalizing relations between Iraq and Kuwait.
 
Prime Minister of Iraq [Nuri Kamel] Al-Maliki’s recent visit to Kuwait was an important step. So too is the forthcoming visit of His Highness Emir of Kuwait to Iraq for the League of Arab States Summit meeting.
 
I am encouraged by the resumption of the Joint Ministerial Committee between Iraq and Kuwait to address all outstanding issues.
 
I urge Iraq to fulfill its long-standing obligations to Kuwait.
 
The United Nations is committed to the security and stability of Kuwait and the implementation of all outstanding Security Council resolutions, particularly regarding Kuwaiti missing persons and property, the Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Maintenance Project, and compensation.
 
On the situation in Syria, I remain deeply concerned about the continuing conflict, the bloodshed and the displacement of thousands of people. 
 
As you know, the Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy, Mr. Kofi Annan, accepting his six-point plan, which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
 
I share Mr. Annan's view that this is an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to those people who are suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfill the long-held legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
 
I strongly urge President Assad of Syria to put those commitments into immediate effect. There is no time to waste.
 
Mr. Annan is working urgently with all parties to secure implementation of the plan at all levels. I sincerely appreciate his tireless efforts and the evident support he is receiving from the international community.
 
The Middle East peace process is also at a dangerous impasse.
 
I appeal to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to show courage and vision to return to meaningful negotiations that will resolve the core issues of the conflict and end the occupation that started in 1967.
 
Shukran jazeelan, and now I will be happy to answer some of your questions.
 
Q: [inaudible]
 
SG: I understand that the question is about the League of Arab States summit meeting on Syria. This League of Arab States summit meeting is going to take place at a very crucial time in discussing all the important issues happening in this region, particularly the situation in Syria. I would like to report that ministers preparing for the summit have already discussed very seriously about this situation. This is a good occasion and I’m very much grateful such a strong support and spirit of teamwork together with the United Nations in addressing this Syria situation. I have been very closely working together with Mr. El Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, from the beginning of this crisis, and most recently, we have been very closely coordinating. Now, I am going to meet with key leaders in Baghdad and discuss with them how the United Nations and the League of Arab States can work together in helping Joint Special Envoys in [their] efforts to get these six-point proposals implemented as was pledged by President Assad.
 
Q: [inaudible]
 
SG: We have been discussing this matter, this Chapter VII Security Council resolution, which has been enforced on Iraq. The Iraqi Government should fully implement the relevant Security Council resolutions so that the Iraqi Government can [inaudible] to this as a longer, normal state. Prime Minister al-Maliki’s visit, I understand, was a very successful one. And His Highness Emir’s visit again to Iraq will provide good opportunities for the two leaders to discuss in-depth, more seriously in genuine sincerity, so that all of these pending issues – both bilateral issues and also issues pending on the UN Security Council resolutions. That is the best way. It has been longer than 20 years now since the Iraqi invasion, operation, started. Therefore, it is important that the Iraqi Government fulfills all of these Security Council resolutions.
 
Q: Excellency, His Highness the Emir of the State of Kuwait will be heading Kuwait’s delegation to the Arab summit in Baghdad. How do you evaluate the subject itself in terms of participation and items on the agenda, as well as the importance of it being held in Baghdad, as well as the importance of the State of Kuwait’s participation at the highest level compared to other States?

SG: The leaders of the League of Arab States during the Baghdad summit meeting will have a very important opportunity to take stock of the situation, which happened in this region, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring. While most countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya – they have succeeded in realizing the aspirations and the dreams of people toward a more participatory and fuller democracy. But still, the challenges are huge. There are a lot of things for the Arab League and the international community as a whole to help those countries in transition. The League of Arab States’ leaders, they should take the lead. They are the primary responsible leaders to help those countries in the region. The United Nations thus takes as one of the five priorities for the coming five years to help those countries in transition.
 
The relationship between Iraq and Kuwait has always been very sensitive. There are many pending issues. But these pending issues have not been resolved. With this exchange of visits at the highest level of leaders, it will provide a good opportunity again for two countries now [to] move toward a better, mutually harmonious and prosperous, more stable relationship. It is again important that Iraq fulfills all the obligations, international obligations, imposed by the UN Security Council, and try to resolve all these bilateral pending issues. Therefore, His Highness’ visit to Iraq will be a crucially important occasion.