4 February 2008


4 February 2008
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE BY Security Council president


Progress in the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in the Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region would be a priority focus of the Security Council this month, Ricardo Alberto Arias, Permanent Representative of Panama, told correspondents this afternoon, as he briefed them on the agenda for his Presidency.

“The Council has decided to deal with this issue in a [public] debate instead of a consultation,” he said about the 8 February presentation of the latest report on the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  “The aim is to bring greater awareness of the entire membership of the situation that is taking place in Sudan and the difficulties that, at this point, the mission is finding.”

He added that there was also a general expectation that the Secretary-General’s report on his meeting with the African Union, expected tomorrow, would push forward the deployment of the mission.

Mr. Arias said that the Council would also hold an open debate on children in armed conflict, on 12 February.  It was a topic of particular importance to his country and would be presided over by its foreign minister, he added.  He expected other ministers to attend, and expressed hope that the presidential statement expected to result from the meeting would advance the issue in some meaningful way.

An open meeting was also expected on Timor-Leste on 15 February, he said.  In addition, the regular monthly briefing on the Middle East was scheduled for the 21 February, but there could be wider meetings on the region, if facts on the ground warranted.

The Friday, 15 February, meeting on Somalia was originally proposed as an open debate, as well, but the report of the United Nations mission to that region had been delayed and now only consultations would be held on the extension of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).  In addition, the Foreign Minister of Kenya had asked to address the Council within the next few days, but the format of that meeting had not been decided upon.

In response to correspondents’ questions, Mr. Arias said that the topics of Myanmar, Afghanistan and the tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had been suggested for the agenda by various delegations, but there had not been enough new information at this point to schedule meetings on them.  No delegations had asked that the topics of Kosovo or the Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda be put on the agenda this month.  No meetings had been scheduled on Iran and non-proliferation, as the Council was awaiting the results of bilateral talks.  A concept paper on the subject was being circulated, however.

Asked about a Council press statement that expressed support for the upcoming negotiations on Western Sahara, to be held on the outskirts of New York from 11 to 13 March, he said that hope for progress on the situation arose from the fact that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative would be making a trip to the region prior to that meeting, which would allow him to more effectively facilitate the talks.

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