13 September 2007


13 September 2007
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE on upcoming high-level events


Briefing correspondents today on a series of high-level events surrounding the General Assembly’s upcoming sixty-second session, Nicholas Haysom, Director for Political Affairs of the Secretary-General’s Executive Office described the upcoming period as an “unprecedented, exceptionally intense” time of multilateral engagement.

Singling out four events that would stand side by side with the 24 September climate change summit, Mr. Haysom noted that a high-level consultation on Darfur, co-chaired by the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union, would take place on 21 September.  The objective of the meeting was to mobilize international support behind the three tracks which were currently being pursued in regard to Darfur, namely political-level discussions, scheduled to commence in Tripoli, Libya; the establishment of the joint Hybrid Force; and economic development.

A second high-level meeting, on Iraq, was scheduled to take place on 22 September, he said.  That meeting was to be co-chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq.  The meeting would have three objectives, including taking stock of the new Security Council resolution on Iraq, strengthening the various regional initiatives taking place and further developing the International Compact.  Invitees included members of the Security Council permanent five, the Group of Eight (G-8) leading industrialized nations, neighbouring countries and relevant regional organizations.

The third meeting was a ministerial-level event on Afghanistan, scheduled to take place the following day, on 23 September, to be co-chaired by Secretary-General Ban and Afghan President Karzai, he said.  The objective of that meeting was to galvanize the international community’s long-term commitment to assist Afghanistan under the framework of the International Compact, as well as to reaffirm the United Nations central role in a strategically coordinated international partnership in support of Afghanistan.  The event would also examine ways to help Afghanistan face the issues of counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, governance and regional cooperation.  Invitees included the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), a group of some 23 countries and organizations which participated in the Afghanistan International Compact.

The Quartet would also be meeting on the afternoon of 23 September, he added.  That meeting, chaired by the Secretary-General, would hear a report from Tony Blair on his findings.  It would also address, in general, the political issues in the Middle East.  The meeting would break for Iftar -- the breaking of the fast --- and the League of Arab States Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative would be invited to attend.  The Committee -- the Arab League partners -- included Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Arab League.

A number of other meetings would take place of a social nature, including the banquet preceding the climate change conference, he said.

A ministerial-level meeting of the Kosovo Contact Group would also take place, in which the Secretary-General might participate, he said.  The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Meeting on the Middle East would take place on 24 September, to be chaired by the Secretary-General and the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs.  Some 70 to 100 bilateral meetings were also expected to be held, he added.

In response to a question, he said it was relatively traditional for Heads of State to seek bilateral meetings with the Secretary-General, who generally tended to fit them in for relatively short, compact and directed meetings, one after the other.  It was also an opportunity for foreign ministers and representatives of such regional organizations as the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which would be meeting at Headquarters, who might also wish to engage with the Secretary-General.

Asked whether he had a list of those invited to the Darfur meeting, he said he could only confirm that the meeting would take the “ Addis Ababa format” and be chaired by the Secretary-General and the Chairman of the African Union.

Another correspondent asked whether he expected the United Nations to emerge from the Iraq meeting with a more specific plan for implementation of the resolution, and whether a contact group would be set up to deal with the question of reconciliation.

Mr. Haysom said it was always difficult to predict what would formally come out of conference-format engagements.  It was to be hoped that among the issues to be aired would be the role of the United Nations in any third-party facilitation effort, while taking on board anything the Iraqis had to say.

A correspondent asked whether the United Nations had any interest in raising the issue of those indicted by the International Criminal Court over Darfur.  Were any meetings planned with the aim of “heading off” the seemingly impending confrontation between Iran and the United States?

Responding to the latter question, Mr. Haysom said no such meetings were planned.  As for the Darfur meeting, the agenda was concerned with finding a resolution and giving momentum to the three tracks that the international community was pursuing.

Regarding the Quartet meeting, he told another journalist that there was no high-level meeting scheduled on Lebanon, which was not to say that the United Nations was not paying close attention to that country’s upcoming presidential election and other developments.

Asked about possible links between the Quartet meeting and the upcoming Washington conference on the Middle East, he said the Quartet meeting was not a preparatory meeting for the Washington conference, although some of the questions arising in Washington would receive attention of the Quartet.

Regarding doubts about the attendance of Saudi Arabia and Egypt owing to their concern that the agenda would not address core issues, he said that matter would be considered “one step at a time”.

Asked who would attend the Kosovo meeting, he said it would be a ministerial meeting of the Contact Group scheduled for 27 September.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.