Secretary-General's remarks at press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 3 June 2012
SG: Let me begin by thanking the Foreign Minister, His Royal Highness, Prince Saud Al-Faisal for his warm welcome, and his hospitality and his leadership.
I am pleased to be back in Saudi Arabia.
We have just taken part in a meeting of the Advisory Board of the UN Counter Terrorism Centre. I thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous support and for hosting this gathering.
The Advisory Board is made up of almost two dozen experts in the field of counter-terrorism. I commend Saudi Arabia for bringing together this wide range of leaders from all regions of the globe.
My visit to Saudi Arabia also provides an opportunity to address a number of issues of regional and global concern.
I discussed many of these matters with the Foreign Minister. I look forward to my meeting tomorrow with His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. I thank His Majesty King Abdullah for his visionary leadership and commitment to be able to establish this UN Centre for Counter-Terrorism and for his generous support.
Let me quickly point to three areas.
First, I thanked the Minister for his country’s support to Yemen and its efforts to keep the transition process on track. The situation remains complex and fragile. My Special Adviser Jamal Benomar will remain closely engaged with all sides to support a full inclusive and meaningful national dialogue.
Second, Saudi Arabia is working to advance the Middle East Peace Process, particularly through its significant role on the Arab Peace Initiative, put forward by His Majesty the King. I remain very concerned about the lack of tangible progress between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable. The occupation must end. A two-State solution is long overdue.
Finally, the situation in Syria remains deeply troubling. The world is outraged by the appalling attacks we have seen week after week, month after month.
I once again call on the Government of Syria to uphold its responsibilities and abide by the Annan plan. I urge all members of the international community to use their considerable influence for a peaceful solution.
I commend Saudi Arabia’s support for the League of Arab States’ efforts.
And again I am very much grateful and admire with deepest respect the visionary leadership of His Majesty the King, who has been a strong supporter of the Centre for Counter-Terrorism and all spectrums of the United Nations objectives and goals. I sincerely hope that this second Advisory Board meeting to address counter-terrorism will bear good fruits so that all the people around the world will be able to live without any fear of terrorism, and where all human rights and human dignity will be protected.
Once again, I am pleased to be here. Thank you for this opportunity.
Q: [inaudible] Questions on the League of Arab States Foreign Ministers calling for a time line for the Annan Plan for Syria and on the role of the Advisory Board of the Counter-Terrorism Centre.
SG: This Advisory Board for Counter-Terrorism has a very important role to coordinate with the Member States of the United Nations in accordance with the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy which was adopted by consensus in December 2006. It was remarkable that all the Member States of the United Nations have supported this Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Under this we have established the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, known as CTITF, and with this vision we have established this UN Centre for Counter-Terrorism. They have four pillars which we want to realise. We have to create some conditions conducive to eliminating this terrorism in the name of humanity. We have to find out the ways and means to prevent and combat terrorism. And we have to help those countries who have been suffering and who are threatened by terrorism to build their capacity. This capacity should be supported at the national and the regional and the international level. And in the course of addressing this terrorism we have to ensure that human rights and rule of law should be fully protected and established. Those are the four pillars we want to achieve through this Advisory Board meeting. As I said, it was possible only through the very generous support and visionary leadership of His Majesty the King.
Q: If the position of China and Russia doesn’t change, what’s your next step as the UN? My second question is about Yemen – how do you evaluate al-Qaeda there?
SG: First of all, during the last 15 [months] when this Syrian situation, crisis, began we have seen that when the Security Council Members are united we were able to deliver the results. When the Security Council is not united people have suffered, too long, too much. Recently the Security Council have been discussing this matter with a greater sense of urgency and seriousness, and they have been speaking out and acting with unity, with a unity of purpose. That is why we have been able to deploy 300 monitors on the ground in Syria, and I sincerely hope that the Security Council will actively discuss the future course of action.
I know that world leaders have been discussing this matter very seriously. Recently President Putin of Russia has been visiting some key European countries. I hope the discussions were very fruitful, and I myself as Secretary-General have been very closely coordinating with key Member States to help unite the voices and positions of the United Nations. Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan was in Doha meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States. He is coming to the United Nations soon and will address the General Assembly and Security Council.
We will have another opportunity to discuss this matter; how the international community can work together. At this time what is important is that I urge again - the Syrian authorities must stop the violence. When it comes to violence, all violence must stop, in all its forms, including these opposition forces so that the political negotiations can begin. The United Nations will continue to work together.
On the situation in Yemen, with the accord agreed between the former President Saleh and the opposition forces, the new government was installed under the leadership of President Hadi. And two days ago I had a good meeting with the Prime Minister of Yemen. The UN is very much committed, and my Special Adviser Jamal Benomar has been playing an instrumental role. Saudi Arabia has been playing a key role in maintaining the political stability there. I have discussed this matter with His Royal Highness in a very detailed manner. I really count on Saudi Arabia [continuing] to play an influential role together with the United Nations.
Q: [inaudible] Question on perceived differences between the positions of the Secretary-General and the Joint Special Envoy, and on Syrian Foreign Ministry criticism of the Secretary-General’s comment that Syria could face a catastrophic civil war.
SG: Let me answer to your question about the assessment of myself and the Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan. I can confirm to you that there is no difference between what he sees and what I see, the situation that has been happening in Syria. We both have been very strong and very tough in condemning all these massacres and killing of the civilian population. I condemned both together with Kofi Annan just six days ago when there was a massacre. We issued a joint statement.
On the criticism which the Syrian Government has made a few days ago against my statement, you must have seen and heard all the statements made by world leaders, including the Russian leader, what he said while visiting European capitals. Most of the world’s leaders have been criticising, expressing their strong concerns that if this situation continues in this way it will plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war.
This is what all other leaders have been saying. I stand by my previous statement. Again, I urge in the strongest possible terms to the Syrian President and his authorities to stop the violence and at the same time all violence must stop in all its forms. The Syrian people have been suffering during the last 15 months – too long, too much. We have to condemn all this brutal killing of civilians, in the name of humanity. We will continue to work hard to put an end to this crisis. And I really appreciate the strong support and efforts by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, working together with the United Nations and the League of Arab States.
Q: [inaudible] Question on combating terrorism and Iran.
SG: On efforts by the international community to combat terrorism all the Member States of the international community, including Iran, have an obligation to fully comply with this Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly. That is why we are meeting here. Unfortunately the international community has suffered on many occasions by these very brutal, these heinous terrorist attacks. I sincerely hope that all the Member States of the United Nations are united in working together to eliminate terrorism. Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 3 June 2012