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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General’s press encounter after his meeting with President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt [unofficial transcript]

Cairo, Egypt, 21 November 2012


I would like to have a brief briefing about my meeting with the President of Egypt.

This is as you may know my second visit in three days. I was here the day before yesterday. I went to Israel and I came back. From here, I am going to Jordan.

I am very grateful to President Morsi for receiving me at this particular time. I have reiterated my sincere condolences to the President for the loss of his sister and for the accident last weekend in which more than 50 children were unfortunately killed.

The President and I have had a very constructive dialogue. I wanted to personally add my voice of my support and political weight to President Morsi’s efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel. This follows my meetings in Cairo on Monday and Tuesday, my meetings in Jerusalem yesterday and today, and my meetings in Ramallah this morning.

Let me just say, we have also discussed the explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv just a couple of hours ago. Such an attack at such a critical time was clearly designed to test the resolve. It makes it all the more urgent to reach an immediate ceasefire. I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. There are no circumstances that justify the targeting of civilians. I express my sympathy to those injured in the blast.

I am particularly concerned about the spiral of violence at a time of intense efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

We all know there are many details to work out but while that happens civilians continue to die, cities continue to be targeted. That is why we need a ceasefire right now – immediately.

I reiterate my firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and destruction. I know President Morsi shares my sense of urgency.

As I said on Tuesday, Egypt has long been a leader in the region. President Morsi brings to the office a legitimacy from elections and the ability to reach all sides. I told him that he is uniquely placed among the leaders in the region to bring this crisis to an end through his political leadership. And I added my voice, my moral and political support for his efforts.

In the past 48 hours, I have heard all around the expectations that Egypt would help end the crisis. I am encouraged by this sign of confidence in Egypt’s capacity to have a stabilizing influence for the region. The serious efforts by President Morsi and his senior officials are commendable and deserve our support.

The situation in Gaza remains of great concern. My overriding and immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of all civilians. I am deeply saddened by the mounting loss of civilian lives and I am concerned about the lack of humanitarian access. We will try to mobilize all UN country teams and systems to support those people in need in Gaza.

Violence is again dominating the scene, not progress towards the long overdue Palestinian State, as part of a two-state solution.

This recent crisis proves again that the status quo is unsustainable and that a negotiated two-state solution ending a prolonged occupation is more urgent than ever. Here too, I count on Egypt to help.

I am heading next to Jordan to meet King Abdullah but I am leaving my Special Coordinator Robert Serry here in Cairo to stay in close touch with Egyptian authorities in support of their efforts.

Before returning to New York tonight I shall brief the Security Council by teleconference.

Thank you very much.


Off-the-Cuff on 21 November 2012