Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

22 May 2009

Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

22 May 2009
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Enrique Yeves, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.

I understand there are some guests with us today.  Welcome to New York.  And we also have Enrique Yeves, the General Assembly Spokesperson, and he will brief you after me.

** Sri Lanka

The Secretary-General should be arriving in Sri Lanka shortly on a visit aimed at seeking progress on three critical areas: immediate humanitarian relief; reintegration and reconstruction; and a sustainable and equitable political solution.

Hours before his arrival, his Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar, told reporters in Colombo that:  “We hope that the Secretary-General’s visit can help begin a process of national recovery, renewal and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”

He said the process for national reconciliation must be all-inclusive so that it can fully address the legitimate aspirations of Tamils as well as other minorities.  It is important that victory becomes a victory for all Sri Lankans, he added.

Mr. Nambiar described his activities over the past week, which included a visit to the north to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Menik farm, as well as a helicopter flight to the conflict area.  He said he met with a range of interlocutors, including senior officials, humanitarian agencies, the diplomatic corps, plus senior political leaders, including Tamil parliamentarians, as well as President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa and representatives of civil society.

He said the Secretary-General’s programme includes a visit to the IDP camps as well as, weather permitting, a helicopter over-flight to the former area of conflict.  Mr. Nambiar’s transcript should be available shortly.

**Secretary-General Statement on Pakistan

I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the Humanitarian Response Plan for Pakistan.

The Secretary-General urges the international community to show their solidarity with the people of Pakistan by supporting the Humanitarian Response Plan launched today in Islamabad, and the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan presented yesterday by the Government of Pakistan.

The Secretary-General is concerned that Pakistan is currently witnessing rapid displacement on a massive scale.  He emphasizes that the assistance provided in partnership between the Government of Pakistan and humanitarian agencies is key to maintaining basic support to the needs of some 1.7 million people, as outlined in the Humanitarian Response Plan.

The Secretary-General stresses the urgency of raising the $544 million requested in the appeal to address the critical needs of the affected population and assist in the normalization of their lives.

** Pakistan -- Humanitarian Update

And still on Pakistan, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is working to provide better shelter facilities to help protect displaced civilians from the intense heat, which is reaching 45˚ Celsius at this time of the year.

The agency is also working to provide separate communal shelters -- or cool rooms -- for men and women, with electricity to power fans and coolers.

The UN refugee agency is also constructing individual and communal kitchens for the internally displaced persons, so they could cook their own meals instead of receiving already cooked meals that are currently distributed by the Government.

And the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has raised concern about the critical health needs of nearly 70,000 pregnant women displaced by the fighting in the Swat Valley.

UNFPA says the massive displacement of civilians has placed pregnant women at special risk.  It says their situation is made worse by existing lack of access to prenatal care, assisted delivery and emergency obstetric care.

The Fund estimates that nearly 6,000 pregnant women are expected to give birth within the next month, with many needing surgery to handle pregnancy-related complications.

UNFPA is working closely with Government officials to provide reproductive health care in camps.  Medical workers are operating mobile service units in the area and eight additional mobile service units are being dispatched to other affected districts.  We have more upstairs from UNHCR and UNFPA on the situation.

** Somalia

On Somalia, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has expressed hope that some 40,000 civilians who have fled Mogadishu in recent days because of increased fighting could return home soon.

He was speaking to UN Radio earlier today as pro-Government forces reportedly launched a fresh offensive to repel Islamist fighters who have been attacking Mogadishu in recent days.

Ould-Abdallah said that the situation has been very difficult for the newly displaced persons, who have joined a flow of refugees on the outskirts of Mogadishu.  And for the assistance efforts there, you can look at the UNHCR website for an update on that situation.

**Security Council

And here at UN Headquarters, the Security Council is holding consultations this morning on Cyprus and other matters.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, briefed Council members.  Earlier today, he briefed troop-contributing countries of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

**World Health Assembly

In Geneva, the World Health Assembly wrapped up its sixty-second session today.  It adopted 15 resolutions on a variety of global health issues, including primary health care, drug-resistant tuberculosis, public health, innovation and intellectual property, and pandemic influenza preparedness.

In closing remarks, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, noted that, for the first time in history, we are watching the conditions conducive for the start of a pandemic unfold before our eyes.  On the one hand, this gives us an unprecedented opportunity to be on guard.  But on the other hand, scientists are capturing an abundance of signals that are not always easy to interpret.

Chan added that the decision to declare an influenza pandemic is a responsibility that she takes “very, very seriously”.  We have her full remarks upstairs.

Meanwhile, the Assembly approved a plan of action that recognizes the effects of climate change on health.  Among other things, the plan deals with preparing health systems to better cope with the diseases that might appear as a result of global warming.  And there is more on this upstairs.


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has released an annual health report.

According to the Agency, because of the blockade of Gaza, the health situation there is still deteriorating.  UNRWA has been unable to repair damaged health centres, and a lack of paper has complicated the keeping of medical files.

Meanwhile, the Agency’s current health budget is $80 million for 4 million people.  In other words, it only has $20 per person per year.  As a result, UNRWA says it may have to close its hospital in Qalqilya, in the West Bank, or reduce certain health services.  There’s more on that in the Geneva press briefing notes upstairs.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN refugee agency is concerned over growing reports of atrocities against civilians in the North and South Kivu provinces.  It says that these abuses are committed both by rebel groups and by Government forces. and continue to cause major population displacements in the region.

Since January, repeated attacks by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in North and South Kivu have driven more than 370,000 people from their homes.

UNHCR is appealing to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- with the support of the international community -- to provide protection to the civilian population.  It also asks to end the atmosphere of impunity surrounding crimes committed by members of the Congolese army (FARDC), the national police and by armed rebels such as the FDLR.

The UN refugee agency says that harassment, human rights abuses, rapes and intimidations against civilians are regularly reported by the local population in the east of the country.  It adds that security incidents against humanitarian workers are also on the rise.  And there is more on this upstairs.

** Colombia

And the agency, that’s the refugee agency, also reports a recent wave of death threats against human right workers and social activists in Colombia.  There is more on that in the briefing notes from UNHCR.

**Biological Diversity

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity.  And we have the Secretary-General’s message on that upstairs.

**Literacy -- Afghanistan

UN-Habitat and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have joined forces to improve Afghanistan’s literacy rate.  After years of conflict, 90 per cent of women and 63 per cent of men cannot read or write.

Called the Learning for Community Empowerment Programme, the $40 million project will be implemented in 20 provinces across Afghanistan.


The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) warns that the ever-growing human demand for energy is endangering gorillas and their habitats.

UNEP says that the degradation and destruction of their habitats also worsen climate change overall.  With this in mind, 2009 has been declared the Year of the Gorilla.  And one project enables local residents to purchase highly fuel-efficient stoves for a low price in order to use less firewood, which is often taken from the forests that are home to gorillas.  There is a press release from UNEP upstairs on this.

**The Week Ahead at the United Nations

Finally, we do have The Week Ahead at the United Nations for you for your planning purposes.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the briefing, the Secretary-General is due to arrive in Sri Lanka for his visit shortly.  He will be spending all day Saturday in Sri Lanka.

And on Sunday, he will be in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he will be delivering an opening statement at the World Business Summit on Climate Change, which lasts until 26 May.

Monday, as you know, is an official holiday at New York Headquarters.  We will not have a briefing, but our Office will have a duty officer as always.

Tuesday, the Secretary-General will be in Helsinki, Finland, on his first official visit to the country.  And the special session of the Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka begins on Tuesday 26 May, at 3 p.m. in Geneva, as we announced to you earlier.

On Thursday, 28 May, there is a graduation ceremony for the class of 2009 of the United Nations International School.  And that takes place at 3 p.m. in the General Assembly Hall.

And on Friday, that’s a week from today, is International Day of Peacekeepers.  At 9:15 a.m., the Secretary-General is expected to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honour peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2008.  And at 10 a.m., he will attend a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be presented posthumously.

The guests at the noon briefing that day will be Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Susana Malcorra, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, to brief you on the occasion of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

And that’s what I have for you.  I have one statement that the Controller has asked me to bring to your attention after his briefing yesterday.  I believe he just brought up to date the Fifth Committee on some recent payments.  So that’s available upstairs for those who are following this story.  Okay, Masood.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I just wanted you to clarify.  You just gave a figure about this flash appeal in Islamabad in Pakistan, and you also gave a figure of pregnant women that UNFPA is concerned about…  Do you have a figure, or did they give a figure of how many children were displaced and what if anything, is being done by UNICEF, because in the past, UNICEF has been, I mean great in facilitating help during the earthquake.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Oh, I am sure that UNICEF is involved.  All the humanitarian agencies on the ground are involved in this.  If you can follow up with OCHA to find out the breakdown of their appeal, usually it breaks down all the agencies and all the sectors that the assistance is being sought in.  And as for children, generally, in a humanitarian emergency, in a displaced situation, about 50 per cent of the population are children.

Question:  Also Marie, yesterday I asked you and you said that you’d find out about this persecution by the religious authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Has there been any follow-up on that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  We’ve followed up, in the sense that we’ve presented your question to MONUC and to DPKO. So, if we haven’t heard back it’s probably because we don’t have an update.  Yes, Tarek?

Question:  Thank you, Marie. I’d like to ask about the current situation between Sudan and [ Chad].  You know in the…  Just yesterday and the day before, the Sudanese Government sent an official message to the Security Council accusing Chad of violating its airspace by 6 kilometres and there is an escalation of rhetoric and violence on the borders between the two countries.  Other than the statements made early this week by Mr. Ban Ki-moon, what’s he going to do in order to defuse the... to calm down the tension between the two countries?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, the Secretary-General did issue a statement calling for de-escalation in that situation.  He is following the situation obviously very closely.  But he has a Special Representative of the African Union and the United Nations on the ground in the name of Mr. Rudolph Adada, and I would like to point out his activities this week on the ground that involves efforts and talks and meetings he’s had there involving a variety of actors in the region.  So let’s bring that to your attention.  Yes, Rhonda first and then we’ll go to Tarek.

Question:  I wondered if the Security Council has ever raised with Israel why they were not allowing [inaudible], and if he’s gotten any answer about that since [inaudible].

Deputy Spokesperson:  You’d have to ask the Security Council the question.

Question:  I’m asking the Secretary-General, I’m sorry, if the Secretary-General has ever raised it with Israel.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, the Secretary-General has UNRWA and the humanitarian agencies on the ground and various interlocutors who are in daily contact with Israel on a host of issues, and I am sure that if they are raising this issue, it has already been raised between…

Question:  Could we get a readout on the response about the paper since it is interfering with the (inaudible) situation.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you’re free to call and get more in response from UNRWA.  As you know, whenever the UNRWA representative comes here, they update you and they fill you in on their activities.  Yes, Dennis?

Question:  Thank you, Marie.  Has the Secretary-General any comments on the situation in South Yemen?  A number of newspapers have been shut down and at least three demonstrators have been killed.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have not… Actually, this is the first that it’s been brought to my attention, so let me look into that for you.  Yes?

Question:  Marie, just a question on this Israel topic.  The new Government in Israel finally is beginning to show some firm positions.  Yesterday, the Prime Minister saying that Jerusalem will remain completely Israeli, seeming to veer from the Road Map agreement and the process the Secretary-General has been working for.  And also, the Israeli forces making another incursion into Gaza, killing two people, does the Secretary-General have a response to both the seeming new, the position of the Israeli Government and the recent incursion into Gaza?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have any specific reaction to the news reports that you’re referring to.  The Secretary-General continues to be engaged in [the Middle East].  The last time he has spoken publicly was in his remarks in Geneva at the press conference just a few days ago.  Yes?

Question:  Marie, there was a group of Italian and Japanese students at the UN a few days ago, they’ve returned to their country and they have closed the school because they contracted the flu.  It was out in a wire, and an anonymous source from the UN says that this is not cause for alarm at the UN.  Can we have an official source that says that even if they visited the UN they didn’t create any problem?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The only information… I think you’re asking the same question as we had a couple of days ago here regarding some students who participated in the Model UN conference?

Question:  Yes.

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’d like to refer you to… there is a press release put out by the UN Association which organizes this event.  So, that’s out and that’s what I’d like you to look at.  Yes?

Question:  Marie, on this question I had asked the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping also, but he lamented that, despite years of requests, no helicopters have been provided for Darfur, for the UN hybrid force in Darfur, and so forth.  Will there any time be any update on this, whether the United States or Russia or China have offered anything?  And, if there is, can we know about that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, if we do get offers, believe me, we’ll be the first to report them to you.  The Secretary-General flags the status of the deployment of UNAMID, the UN-African Union force on the ground, and in each of those reports that come out fairly regularly he always highlights the status of whether those helicopters have been offered and delivered.

Question:  [inaudible] the helicopters that they have are provided only by Eritrea or by any other country?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I think he mentioned there were some helicopter offers from Ethiopia in the pipeline.  I have nothing further than that.  But when they arrive, I am sure that the mission will put out a press release welcoming their arrival.

With that, I hope you’re able to have a good three-day weekend and I’ll now turn over to Enrique for the General Assembly.  Thanks.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Good afternoon.  Good to see you all.

I have a brief, but I think an important, announcement to make.  As you probably know in the last few days, several Member States, including some Heads of State have been calling President of the General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann asking him to look into the possibility of postponing a few day or a few weeks the summit that was due to start on 1, 2 and 3 June on the financial international crisis and architecture.  The President of the General Assembly was a little bit reluctant to change this, but he understands the reasons behind it.  There are strong reasons behind; mainly we have a very short period of time to discuss the outcome document.  As you know, the outcome document started officially to be discussed last Wednesday, and we have with Monday here being a holiday here in the United States, very few days to discuss such an important document and some member delegations, some delegations thought that we wouldn’t have enough time to have the document on time.

At the same time, it is also true that it coincides, from the timing point of view, with other events that are preventing some Heads of State to attend and have asked those, some presidents, some Heads of State have asked the President of the General Assembly, then, to be flexible and try to see, to postpone it.  We have Korea has called for an ASEAN summit in Korea from 1, 2 of June.  President Zelaya of Honduras is asking the Heads of State of Latin America and the Caribbean to attend an important meeting on 3 June in San Pedro Sula.  So those Heads of State were asking the President of the General Assembly to see whether it would be feasible to postpone it.

As I said before, the important element, the bottom line here, is that the President wants a successful summit.  And, therefore, he called yesterday, as probably you are aware already, after a very in-depth discussion with all the heads of the regional groups and of the different, and some of the countries; he has called for a General Assembly meeting today at 4 p.m., and it will be at that meeting, it will be decided whether the summit is going to be postponed for the new dates, which will be 24, 25 and 26 of June.

And this will take place, as I said today in a formal meeting of the General Assembly, at 4 this afternoon.  And this is all I have, unless you have any questions for me.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  (Inaudible)...recommended that they be postponed?

Spokesperson:  Yes, he is echoing the consensus of the Member States, as I said not only here in New York, but also the delegations here in New York; also several Heads of State have been calling him the last few days asking him whether he could postpone it.  And, you know, as I said, he is a little bit reluctant because they were the agreed dates.  But, he understands they are; these two elements are very strong arguments and, therefore, he is proposing now, at the request of Member States, these two new dates.  Yes.

Question:  Can you explain a little bit; I mean, I am wondering when you decided to organize this high-level meeting, it was months ago and then the countries and the Heads of State and the ministers and everyone knew about this summit.  And then, you didn’t know in advance that these countries, as Honduras, that there were going to have this kind of meeting in their countries?  How can you, I mean, which is your impression about.  It was problem about scheduling agendas or it’s like, at the last moment, the countries are showing that they prefer other kinds of summit?  It’s not so important this kind of summit at the UN?  Because, we are talking about the summit for months.

Spokesperson:  Let me give you a little bit of background.  As you know, this was a meeting mandated at Doha last year, in December.  And, at that meeting, it was mandated to have this meeting at the highest level possible under the chairmanship of the President of the General Assembly here in New York, modalities to be defined later on.  The modalities took a long time to define.  It took around two months to discuss when, what, etc.  As you know, the agenda of the Heads of State and the senior leaders around the world, it’s very heavy, and there were different positions and also the format of the meeting, etcetera, etcetera; it took a long time.

Then we had the issue of the outcome document, which took much longer than expected to be agreed upon as the basis for discussion.  And that ends up only last week, I mean, only this week, a couple of days ago the draft outcome document, which is going to be the result of this meeting, was available for negotiations.  I mean, you have seen it; it’s available on the web.  It is a very important document.  It lays down the possibility of restructuring the whole international financial architecture.  Expecting this document to be discussed in five days was, probably, or six or seven days, very optimistic.  And most of the delegations have said that.

Now, it is true that some of the... that the days were known before, but those meetings have been called now very recently, the ones that I have mentioned right now like the ASEAN summit and President Zelaya called in Honduras.  Therefore, with all that, as I said the President of the General Assembly was not extremely happy for the changes, but he understands the reasons behind it and he is flexible.  Then, some other countries who have expressed a strong, that were, or had elections recently like India or South Africa who wanted to come participate at a high level.  And, in one week, that was going to be very difficult.  So, postponing it for a few days was going to make it easier for most of the Heads of State to attend.

Question:  Thank you, Enrique.  You said a number of Heads of State called to cancel the meeting, but had...

Spokesperson:  Not to cancel; to postpone it.

Question:  To postpone, excuse me.  Had any Heads of State agreed to come?

Spokesperson:  Yes, they have some Heads of State agreeing to come.  But, now, with the new dates, because it was also difficult to take a decision in the last 48 hours which new dates and we have the commitment of several Heads of State to come.  But, this is something I don’t want to give any names right now, because, first of all, it is not official that it is being changed.  I am saying that the President of the General Assembly is echoing the Member States and putting such a recommendation this afternoon.  The General Assembly still has to decide.  It could be that, for whatever reason, the Member States finally decide that we go ahead with 1, 2 and 3 of June, which will be fine with the President for the General Assembly, as well.  But, our reading right now is that there is a majority of countries that want to move those dates to facilitate a higher, an attendance of higher leaders.

Question:  Enrique, could you talk a little bit about what the differences over the document have been and how they have been resolved and which ones are outstanding?

Spokesperson:  It is difficult to say, because we have just started two days ago, with this document.  As you know, and I gave the background yesterday a little bit about this process.  We had the Doha meeting, and the President of the General Assembly put forward a draft document to be the basis for negotiations of the Member States.  As you know, it is up to the Member States to decide what is going to be the final outcome.  But, the President of the General Assembly has produced this outcome document, draft outcome document with several inputs.  The first one, as you will recall, is that he asked a commission of experts, coordinated by Joseph Stiglitz from the United States, to provide a comprehensive report.  And that has, they had three, four, five meetings here at Headquarters and around the world, and they provided such a report to the President of the General Assembly.  At the same time, he got inputs from the different United Nations agencies and funds and programmes, as well as from some delegations.  With that, then, he asked two facilitators to start here a process of negotiating a draft outcome document with delegations here.

The very first draft outcome document provided by the two facilitators, the President of the General Assembly thought it was a little bit conservative.  He thought that such a document, asking for the Heads of State to attend, should be much more ambitious.  He has repeatedly said, for extraordinary times we need extraordinary decisions, and to be much more ambitious.  So, he put forward a new document and some of the delegations here, and this is a process of negotiation, as you can imagine, were not much in agreement and some others were in agreement.  And, at the end of that, by the middle of this week, by Wednesday, we had a final draft outcome document agreed upon by the President of the General Assembly and the two co-facilitators.  And that, on Wednesday, they start the negotiations of this document.  This is the document that you will see, and it is on the web and it calls for several issues, including in the summary at the end, as I read out the other day, that they request the President of the General Assembly to keep the conference open and named the following seven groups to be working in the future.  The first one on Global Stimulus for Restructuring and Survival; the second on Finance for Restructuring and Survival; the third on Emergency Trade Stimulation and Debt Relief; the fourth on Global and Regional Reserve Systems; the fifth on the Regulation and Coordination of Global Economy; the sixth on Restructuring International Institutions; and the seventh on the Role of the United Nations.

There are many other issues in the document, which, as I said, to have a look and we can discuss in the coming days, as soon as we know where there are difficulties in the negotiating process.

Question:  Two quick questions, one about this document.  It seems a little bit like a shopping list.  Is there some way to understand the essential issue that is underneath it or is there some...?

Spokesperson:  I would prefer that an expert comes here and give you an overview.  We can do that next week.  But, as I said, I think it would be better once we know what are the elements, the main elements for negotiation that will give you highlights of them.  In any case, as you will see in the document, this is an ongoing process.  The President of the General Assembly believes that the major outcome of this summit should be strong political support for this process of reform and restructuring of the international financial institutions, and then leave some of the technical details, maybe, for these working groups at the ministerial level.

Question:  I have a question about Security Council reform.

Spokesperson:  Sure, go ahead.  I would be surprised if you didn’t have a question about Security Council reform.

Question:  Can you say anything about the meeting today?

Spokesperson:  They had a meeting today, it started at 10 a.m. as it was... it is going to continue this afternoon, actually, I think, unless they have a break right now, they were still discussing the issues and mainly in the morning they have been focusing on the overview, I will call it, of Ambassador Tanin, the special representative of the President of the General Assembly for the negotiations of the Security Council.  Some of the delegations discussing the paper...

Question:  Where is the meeting?

Spokesperson:  Meeting is in Conference Room 2.  And, if you want, I think we can make available the statement produced by Ambassador Tanin today at the meeting.  If you are interested, I can...

Question:  We saw the statement.  But it listed all sorts of appendices and the appendices weren’t there!  And the appendices were the summaries of each of the other sessions.  Can we have access to these appendices, as well?

Spokesperson:  What, the document?

Question:  It just had, you know, it was a document, very, very skimpy basically.  But, it listed appendices which were the documents that they had given out ...(inaudible) prior meetings and they weren’t attached to it.  Is it impossible to get...

Spokesperson:  Okay, let me go through them and see with him whether those are available, but I assume they should be available, so there shouldn’t be any problem with that.

Question:  Okay.  And I just wondered, a general question, and that is the review mechanism.  This was about... Today’s meeting is about this being temporary.

Spokesperson:  Correct.

Question:  And the question I have is, if there is a change to let’s say the number of members on the Security Council; that is essentially a Charter reform, because the Charter sets what States there is now.  How is the plan, if it’s a temporary change that will be reviewed in 10 to 12, or 15 to 16 years, for example, what happens to the Charter?  Does the Charter get left as it is and then, some time later, it might get changed, or does the Charter get changed temporarily?  How is that being...?

Spokesperson:  I think this is also part of the discussions.  How the process, and as I told you; they have these three consecutive meetings coming up now; the one of today and the other two in June, and they are going to discuss, I think on the third one, the methods of how they would go ahead.  Again, I cannot go too much on the detail, because this is part of the negotiations.  But, I can ask Ambassador Tanin on this very precise question that you are asking me, how has been the discussion.

Question:  Any update for the timing for the summit on Palestinian issue that the President has been talking about?

Spokesperson:  No, we don’t have it right now.  As you can imagine, this week the focus has been on the financial crisis summit and the changes.  But, let me check whether by next week we’ll have a more proper indication on when that is going to be happening.  But there is no date now, that’s for sure.

Question:  So, no even rough idea, July or August?

Spokesperson:  My guess, but it’s only a guess, it probably would be July.

Question:  Can you say how many States or Heads of State or countries were pushing for to move to postpone the summit?

Spokesperson:  It is difficult to give you a number, because there are several delegations; then they’re having some Heads of State talking directly to the President of the General Assembly.  But, the majority is thinking that we should be moving the dates, and that’s basically the position...

Question:  The majority...

Spokesperson:  ...or so.

Question:  And then, you’re saying the big issue was, I mean, before the summit was to approve this kind of draft about the, it has to be the basis of the summit.  And then the President of the General Assembly was pushing to do something more ambitious and not so conservative.  Then, it was approved last Wednesday?  And then you said that it was not very optimistic in a few days to go to the summit, like it was scheduled, with this kind of draft.  Does it mean that with this kind of document, more ambitious, more progressive, the Member States of the UN are saying we need more time and we have to deal with this document and we’ll see if we’re going to have an agreement before the summit is going to be?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct.  That’s one of the main elements, if not the main element, is many people asking for more time to discuss this.  That’s basically it.  Then, there are other considerations, like it coincides with the timing with other meetings, etc.  But the main consideration is that several Member States believe that they need more time to negotiate this document.

Question:  So just to follow up to this; can you tell us how this draft of the outcome document, highlight some of its points, can you tell us how is it different from the other document described by the President of the General Assembly, that it was less ambitious?  How is it different from the other document, this is the question.  And also, regarding...

Spokesperson:  From the document before?

Question:  Yes.  Why at first it was less ambitious according to his own version or his own point of view.  And, also, on the new date, you said it would be on 24 or 25 June.  Do you think it might affect who is coming and who is not?

Spokesperson:  Well, every time you change the dates, we’re 192 countries, okay.  And every time you change the date, it fits better ones than others.  I mean, there were already some Heads of State and some delegations who have confirmed their meeting for 1, 2 and 3 June, and they’re not extremely happy about the changes.  But, they also understand the other considerations and the President of the General Assembly, he needs to take a neutral position on this issue.  So he has been listening to the different requests from several States from Africa, from Latin America, from Asia, and from Europe, and from the United States and from other countries.  And he believes that the majority of the countries want now a postponement.  He was not, as I said, extremely happy about it.  He was a little bit reluctant.  But, he understands the reasons behind it.  And then, as for the difference with the other document, we need to go through it.  I don’t have it here right now.  But, as I said, let’s go next week and I will give you a more in-depth brief on the document and the differences and what are the standing positions in terms of negotiations that have just started.

Question:  (Inaudible)... other document?  Not this one.

Spokesperson:  Yes.  The other document, I am not sure.  I need to check that.  If there are no more questions, have a nice long weekend.

* *** *

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