PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

MINISTERS EXPECTED TO ATTEND ASSEMBLY’S MEETING ON PALESTINE & MIDDLE EAST TOMORROW

  • The President will convene a formal plenary meeting on Palestine and the Middle East tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall.
  • The meeting will consist of a debate under the agenda items on “The situation in the Middle East” and “Question of Palestine”.
  • The President’s convening of this meeting follows a written request received from the Permanent Representatives of Niger and Algeria, in their respective capacities as Chairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Arab Group.
  • This plenary meeting will be open and webcast live on UN WebTV.
  • Regarding speakers, there will be statements from the President and Secretary-General.
  • Member States, Observer States and other observers are also currently inscribing themselves on the list of speakers.
  • We do expect several in-person participants at the Ministerial level. This would be the first time since the pandemic began that Ministers would be participating in person at a General Assembly debate in New York. Given the number of delegations wishing to take the floor, we expect the meeting to last all day.
  • A media stakeout has been set up on the 2nd floor, just outside the Trusteeship Council Chamber, for any high-level participants who wish to speak to the press.
  • In connection with this meeting, the President has been receiving requests for bilateral meetings from high-level participants. Our office will issue readouts of those meetings.
  • Asked for details about tomorrow’s list of speakers, including which Ministers would be attending, the Spokesperson said that he did not have a precise list to share at this moment but that around a dozen Ministers were expected to attend.
  • Asked whether the President would have convened a meeting on this topic without a request from Member States, the Spokesperson said that the President was in the hands of Member States. In this case, he received a clear request to convene a meeting and acted accordingly.
  • Asked whether the President had contacted any Israeli or Palestinian officials to express his concerns at the present situation, the Spokesperson said that the President’s primary role was to create a forum, following a request from Member States. That is, therefore, what the President was doing. The Spokesperson repeated that the President had been receiving requests for bilateral meetings from high-level participants attending tomorrow’s meeting. After those meetings were confirmed and held, his office would issue readouts.
  • Asked whether the President would consider visiting Gaza, the Spokesperson said he had no new trips to announce right now, aside from the ones the President had already mentioned at his recent press conference. There were currently no plans to go to Gaza, but the Spokesperson said he would inform journalists if that changed.

 

PRESIDENT DISCUSSES MYANMAR & PALESTINE WITH INDONESIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

  • The President met today in his office with H.E. Mrs. Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • They discussed the situations in Myanmar and Palestine; the impact of COVID-19 on the work of the United Nations; and United Nations peacekeeping, including in the context of gender equality and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.
  • They also underscored the importance of multilateralism in addressing global challenges.
  • The President highlighted his priorities for the 75th session and upcoming meetings of the General Assembly.
  • He also spoke about how the General Assembly has continued to work together to build consensus, while exercising prudence and flexibility at this critical time.

 

PRESIDENT TO HEAD TO BANGLADESH & PAKISTAN NEXT WEEK

  • The President will travel to Bangladesh and Pakistan next week – from 25 to 27 May.
  • In Dhaka, the President will be received by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and meet bilaterally with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He will also deliver a speech on international relations to the Foreign Services Academy and meet with the UN Country Team.
  • While in Bangladesh, he will also travel to Cox’s Bazar to meet with Rohingya refugees.
  • In Islamabad, he is expected to be received by the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. He will also hold bilateral talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on issues on the agenda of the General Assembly. 
  • While in Pakistan, the President will give a speech on multilateralism at the National Defence University and meet with the UN Country Team.
  • Asked whether the President would address the issue of human rights in Bangladesh during his meetings in Dhaka, the Spokesperson said he could not predict what may or may not be discussed. Once the meetings had been held, however, readouts would be issued. Those would include the topics of discussion.

 

ASSEMBLY TO MEET ON PANDEMIC-RELATED BUSINESS CONTINUITY TODAY

  • This afternoon, the President will convene his fifth meeting on COVID-19-related business continuity matters.
  • Today’s discussions – among Member States, the Secretariat and the host country – will focus on the use of UN Headquarters, the status of health conditions related to COVID-19 and access to vaccines.
  • Among other things, Member States will consider a non-paper prepared by the UN Secretariat on scenarios for increased services for intergovernmental meetings.
  • That non-paper references the announcement by the State of New York on 17 May that fully vaccinated individuals can resume indoor activities without masking or distancing.
  • This informal plenary meeting will not be webcast. But the non-paper is available on the President’s web site.

 

MYANMAR: ACTION ON DRAFT RESOLUTION DEFERRED

  • Asked about the postponement of the Assembly’s meeting on Myanmar, which had originally been scheduled for Tuesday 18 May, the Spokesperson said that, on the afternoon of Monday 17 May, the President had been advised by Liechtenstein on behalf of a core group of proponents that they were not ready to take action on their draft resolution on Myanmar and needed more time. 
  • The Spokesperson said action on this item would therefore be deferred. No date had been set yet.
  • The Spokesperson said that the situation in Myanmar remained of serious concern, and it was crucial for the UN to respond. “Ensuring any outcome has the greatest amount of support is clearly important,” he added. 
  • He said the President remains in the hands of the Member States, and any further queries should be directed to the proponents of the resolution.