HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2012
U.N., ARAB LEAGUE REPRESENTATIVE HOLDS FRANK, SUBSTANTIVE TALKS WITH SYRIAN LEADER
- Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, met in Damascus yesterday with President Bashar Al-Assad. The meeting was frank and substantive. Mr. Brahimi said that President Assad had given a positive reaction to his call for the Government to declare a military pause during the Eid Al Adha holiday. Mr. Brahimi hopes this appeal for a holiday pause will be heeded by all concerned for the good of the Syrian people.
- During his visit to Syria, the Joint Special Representative has also met and spoken with members of the opposition who have welcomed the call for a military pause over the Eid holiday and said they would engage with it positively. Mr. Brahimi has also held meetings while in Syria with the Foreign Minister, the Director in Syria of the International Committee of the Red Cross, members of the diplomatic corps, members of the UN Country Team and mothers of persons missing in the conflict.
- His visit to Damascus will end tomorrow.
- Asked about reports of the presence of foreign fighters in Syria’s neighbours, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General remains concerned about the spillover of the fighting in Syria to other countries in the region. He is concerned both about the suffering of the Syrian people and the possible repercussions for neighbouring countries.
U.N. ENVOY, AMBASSADORS MEET LEBANESE PRESIDENT TO EXPRESS SOLIDARITY
- Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, met today with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, accompanied by the Ambassadors of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. The meeting was held to underline solidarity with Lebanon at this difficult time.
- The delegation conveyed their support for the President’s leadership and the efforts he is undertaking in consultation with all Lebanese parties. It is for the Lebanese parties to agree the way forward. It is also vital that this should be done through a peaceful political process.
- Mr. Plumbly also visited the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Ashrafieh today, and he thanked the director and staff for their response to the terrorist attack which took place last Friday.
- The Secretary-General spoke at the weekend by telephone with both the President and the Prime Minister to express his solidarity.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED BY FIGHTING IN LIBYA
- In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed alarm at the fighting in and around the Libyan city of Bani Walid, and in particular the reports indicating growing civilian casualties due to indiscriminate shelling. The Secretary-General reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law. He calls on all the Libyan authorities and those in Bani Walid to begin immediately a process to resolve the Bani Walid stand-off peacefully.
- The Secretary-General believes that the situation in Bani Walid can be resolved in a peaceful manner that preserves the rights of all Libyan citizens and permits the state to exercise its responsibilities there. The Secretary-General notes that his Special Representative in Libya, Tarek Mitri, is actively engaged in helping to defuse and resolve the Bani Walid stand-off.
- Mr. Mitri, in his own statement over the weekend, praised the huge efforts exerted by Libyan President Mohammad al-Magariaf and other parties to prevent an outbreak of armed hostilities, and to put an end, through political means, to various forms of violence.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP MALI VISIT
- Over the weekend, the Deputy Secretary-General concluded his visit to Mali. While in the country, he met with the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Foreign Minister and representatives of civil society. He will be arriving in Geneva this evening.
- The Deputy Secretary-General noted that, at last week’s meeting in Bamako, there was consensus on the way forward in Mali among the main actors: the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union. The UN, African Union and ECOWAS all agreed to strengthen their presence in Bamako. Governments attending the meeting supported the efforts for Mali and the country’s ownership of the political process and military planning. They strongly endorsed the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi.
- The Deputy Secretary-General, in his remarks to the press in Bamako, said that it is also clear that we need to redouble our efforts to remedy the humanitarian situation, which has had repercussions for Mali’s neighbouring countries.
SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS APPOINTED BY HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: Asked about comments reportedly made by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture concerning the United States elections, the Spokesperson noted that special rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council and have an independent mandate under that body. They are not appointed by the Secretary-General.
U.N. URGES RESTRAINT IN MIDDLE EAST: Asked about the rocket firing from Gaza and Israel’s response, the Spokesperson noted that tensions are high in the region and that it is incumbent on all to show maximum restraint.
U.N. REITERATES CONDEMNATION OF DARFUR ATTACK: Asked about an attack last week on UN peacekeepers in Darfur, the Spokesperson noted that any such attack was to be condemned. On the larger question of the use of weapons in Darfur, he said that more work needs to be done to lessen the level of violence.
***The guest at the Noon Briefing was Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who spoke about the challenges and trends in UN peacekeeping, as well as on the situation in Mali and on peacekeeping-related aspects of the latest Security Council resolution on that particular topic.