29 November 2004


Press Briefing

press briefing by president of General Assembly


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was committed to dismantling its nuclear weapons programme within the framework of the overall denuclearization of the KoreanPeninsula, General Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) said at Headquarters today.

Just back from a two-week trip to South-East Asia, he told correspondents at a briefing this afternoon that Pyongyang was prepared to restart the stalled six-party talks to reach that objective, but it believed there was a need first to “improve the climate of the negotiations”.  He planned to pass that message to three other parties to the talks -- Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States -- and to brief them on his discussions in Pyongyang as soon as possible.  The trip had also included visits to the remaining two parties –- the Republic of Korea and China –- with whom he had held “fruitful” talks.

Pressed for further details, he said that officials in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had stressed that the country had maintained a nuclear programme strictly for self-defence because it believed, “rightly or wrongly”, that hostilities were directed at it.

Responding to similar queries, he noted that the Democratic People’s Republic’s demand that the United States guarantee not to attack it or initiate any type of pre-emptive action against Pyongyang continued to be the lynchpin of the negotiations.  However, no such guarantee had been forthcoming.  He added that he had met with representatives of the United States on Friday and that delegation had transmitted the discussion to Washington.

Mr. Ping, who is Gabon’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said his discussions on the KoreanPeninsula and in China had touched on bilateral issues, including the nuclear issue and reunification of the Peninsula, as well as on the work of the Assembly, including United Nations reform, and equitable representation on the Security Council.

Responding to specific questions concerning the Assembly’s upcoming activities, he spotlighted the imminent release of the report by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which was expected to point the way ahead on several issues vital to the overall United Nations reform movement, including revitalization of the Security Council.  The report was expected in a few days and the first round of consultations might begin as early as 8 December.  The President was set to propose that the Panel brief MemberStates and, hopefully, the outcome of that exchange of views would inform the Secretariat’s work on a final report, due in March.

He told reporters to expect shortly a comprehensive draft resolution setting out the “road map” for the Assembly’s mid-term ministerial-level review of global efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals.  That text would also include plans for a top-level review of the Monterrey Consensus, adopted in 2002 at the International Conference on Financing for Development.  It would detail the dates, times and side discussions that would take place at those meetings, and, overall, jump-start the process towards elaborating the outcome documents of the Millennium review.

Asked if he was satisfied with the way in which the Assembly had dealt with African issues, he stressed that the continent and had been continually marginalized by globalization and adversely affected by war, famine and other ills.  Indeed, Africa was where United Nations efforts in peace and security, as well as development, had been most visible.  So the issue was not how African issues had been treated, but that the inaction of Member States had led to little concrete action, and few results, particularly in the development field.

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For information media. Not an official record.