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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter

Sana'a, Yemen, 19 November 2012

I am honoured and privileged to visit, for the first time as United Nations Secretary-General, Yemen and particularly on the eve of the first anniversary of the historic transition agreement which was signed 23 November last year in Riyadh. You have made historic achievements. I highly commend the leadership of President Hadi and his able Government and the courageous people of Yemen. The United Nations is here to witness the progress which you have made and also reaffirm our strong commitment that we will stand by the Yemeni people and Government in making advances toward a brighter future, and prosperous and conciliatory and participatory democracy.

This morning and afternoon I have had very good meetings with President Hadi and Prime Minister Basindwah and his cabinet members. I have also met many people, a cross section of young people, men and women, and the Military Committee and I am going to meet the Diplomatic Corps who have been rendering great support, political and financial.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Security Council members, particularly the Permanent Members of the Security Council, and other major donors who have been supporting Yemen.

I would like to add my strong support to my Special Adviser, Mr. Benomar, and his team and also the United Nations Country Team who have been supporting and who will continue to support the Yemeni people.

Now that you have achieved such a historic achievement of this transitional agreement you have made a peaceful change of power and government. This is a historic moment. But it may be too early only to rejoice; there is still a long way to go. I know that there will be many hurdles and challenges. You have just started the process of national dialogue. I have met the technical committee, preparatory committee members, and they are very much committed to address all the challenges, including the grievances of [the South] and meeting the legitimate aspirations of many people. This process will be Yemeni led and Yemeni owned. The United Nations together with member states of the international community will continue to help. I sincerely hope that President Hadi and all the Government ministers and people should make more efforts dedicated to the better and brighter future of the Yemeni people. This is the vision. Your country, as President Hadi just said, was on the brink of civil war, even just one year ago. But you have overcome this with political courage and determination which meant in the end foresight and political wisdom have prevailed. This is a process which must irreversible. There is no turning back. I know that you have a very difficult past legacies. These legacies can be overcome through reconciliation and mutual understanding and more caring policies by President Hadi and Prime Minister Basindwah of this Government of National Unity. This Government of National Unity has been playing a very important role. I am sure that under such a strong leadership and with strong backing from the United Nations you will be successful. That is my message. Let us work together. I commit myself to work together with all of you to make Yemen another great success of democracy, participatory democracy, prosperous, reconciliatory and harmonious, where all the people, men and women, rich and poor, can enjoy human dignity. Thank you very much.

Q: [In Arabic on the challenges of the Yemeni transition.]

SG: There are many pending issues. As I said, one of the issues will be how to address the grievances of Hiraak and southern questions. Grievances about compensation for land and property. Jobs lost after unification. There will be a lot of other issues. Fighting against al Qaeda; that will be a very important and serious issue. I have emphasized the importance of addressing these issues. How to address the people's basic needs - access to water and energy, and how to address sustainable energy including climate change. But now, when the National Dialogue continues, I think they have to address, first of all, all the pending issues relating to reconciliation, good governance and participatory democracy. I leave it to the members of the National Dialogue. This is Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned but for any technical, logistical support the United Nations will work together with the international community. Just to facilitate this National Dialogue Preparatory Committee the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund provided some seed money with the aim of mobilising at least 10 million dollars. My Special Envoy Mr. Benomar is working very hard. As you are already fully aware the international community led by major donors, G10 [Group of 10] and Friends of Yemen have pledged almost eight billion dollars. I have reaffirmed my commitment to President Hadi and Prime Minister Basindwah that the United Nations will work very closely so that these pledges can be delivered as soon as possible so that President Hadi will be able to make national economic, social and political stability plans. This is the commitment of the United Nations. Thank you very much.