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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter at Vienna City Hall

Vienna, 29 August 2013

It’s a great honour for me to receive this highest decoration from the City Government of Vienna and thank Dr. Michael Haupl the Mayor of this great city for recognizing the United Nations. As I said in my remarks the UN is working day in and day out around the world in very difficult situations not only in Syria. Yesterday as you might have already read one peacekeeper was killed in the course of keeping peace in Democratic Republic of Congo in Goma by an attack of M23 and 10 soldiers were wounded and I express my deepest condolences to the families and victims and the wounded and my sympathy to the wounded persons.

Coming to Syria our experts are still on the ground investigating the uses of chemical weapons. I said the use of chemical weapons by anyone, for any reason, under any circumstances are crimes against humanity and that must be held accountable and we are working very hard and I have been working with leaders of the world how we can keep peace and facilitate dialogue, that is my duty.  Again I am ready to answer your questions.

Q: Have you talked to President Obama?

SG: Well this is what the White House has to announce in coordination with the United Nations. It’s true that I have spoken to President Obama yesterday.  We discussed how the UN and the world can work together particularly with the United States, how we can expedite the process of the investigation. I have also expressed my wish that this investigation team should be allowed to continue their work as mandated by the Member States and I told him that we will surely share the information and the analysis of samples and evidence with Members of the Security Council and UN members in general.

Q: So are you saying that any action before the report comes out from the experts is premature, by anybody?

SG: Yesterday when I was addressing the Peace Palace [in The Hague] I appealed that diplomacy should be given a chance, that peace [should be] given a chance. It is important that all the differences of opinions should be resolved by peaceful means and through dialogue and I am going to continue to work on this principle.

Q: Could the team’s stay in Syria be extended?

SG:  They will continue their investigation activities until tomorrow, Friday, and will come out of Syria by Saturday morning and will report to me as soon as they come out of Syria and that is why I have cut short my visit to Austria and I am very much sorry for this inconvenience caused to President Fischer and other dignitaries of this government. And also I have spoken to President Barroso of the European Commission that our forum the UN European Alpbach Forum I am not able to participate. I asked him to chair this meeting. He understood.

I am grateful that President Fischer and President Barroso of the European Union have fully understood my situation.

Thank you


Off-the-Cuff on 29 August 2013