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

29 June 2009

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

29 June 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 Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Enrique Yeves, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, all.

**Myanmar – Secretary-General Visit

At the invitation of the Government of Myanmar, the Secretary-General will visit Myanmar on the 3rd and 4th of July.

The Secretary-General looks forward to returning to Myanmar to address directly with the senior leadership a broad range of issues, including longstanding concerns to the United Nations and to the international community.

In particular, the Secretary-General considers that three of the most important issues for the future of Myanmar cannot be left unaddressed at this juncture of the country’s political process.  These are the release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the resumption of dialogue between the Government and Opposition as a necessary part of any national reconciliation process; and the need to create conditions conducive to credible elections.

The Secretary-General also considers it important to consolidate and build on the joint humanitarian effort following his visit last year in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

The Secretary-General believes that the sooner these issues are addressed, the earlier Myanmar will be able to move towards peace, democracy and prosperity.  He looks forward to meeting all key stakeholders to discuss what further assistance the United Nations can offer to that end.

**Secretary-General’s Trip to Japan

The Secretary-General is on his way to Japan, where tomorrow he is scheduled to meet with the country’s Foreign Minister, Hirofumi Nakasone, on his arrival on Tuesday evening.

He also will meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso and with Japanese business leaders during his trip.

**Secretary-General’s Trip to Europe

The Secretary-General will also be travelling to Europe next week for visits to Switzerland ( Geneva), Ireland and Italy.

In Geneva on 6 July, he will open the substantive session of the UN Economic and Social Council, (ECOSOC), and address the Second Global Review of Aid for Trade, organized by the World Trade Organization (WTO).  He will also open the Innovation Fair at ECOSOC, and hold a meeting with donors on H1N1 at the World Health Organization.

He will then travel to Ireland for his first official visit to this country from 6 to 8 July.  While in Dublin, the Secretary-General will meet President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister Micheál Martin and Defence Minister Willie O’Dea for discussions on UN-Ireland cooperation, especially in the area of peacekeeping operations.  The Secretary-General will also deliver an address on UN Peacekeeping at Dublin Castle which will be facilitated by the Institute for International and European Affairs.

On 9 and 10 July, the Secretary-General will attend the meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) in L’Aquila, Italy.  He will seek to press G-8 countries for greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, financing the Gleneagles Scenarios for Africa, and weathering the consequences of the economic crisis on developing countries.  He is expected back in New York on the evening of 10 July.

**Secretary-General’s Statement/ Iraq

We have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the violence in Iraq.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the attacks and assassinations in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Anbar in recent days that have killed and wounded a large number of Iraqis.  He expresses his solidarity with the Government and people of Iraq in the face of these appalling acts of violence.

The Secretary-General notes that Iraq has been benefiting from an improving security environment, and appeals to the people of Iraq to continue to reject these attempts to incite further violence in the country.  As Iraq prepares to take full responsibility for security in its cities, he calls upon all Iraqi political leaders to work together towards achieving lasting peace through national dialogue and reconciliation.  The United Nations remains committed to supporting the Government's efforts toward that end.

** Honduras

The Secretary-General, in a statement we issued on Sunday afternoon, expressed his deep concern at the latest developments in Honduras.  He expressed his strong support for the country’s democratic institutions and condemned the arrest yesterday of the constitutional President of the Republic.

He urges the reinstatement of the democratically-elected representatives of the country and full respect for human rights, including safeguards for the security of President Zelaya, members of his family and his government.  He calls on all Hondurans to engage peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation to resolve their differences.

The Secretary-General welcomes the prompt diplomatic efforts of the Organization of American States, OAS.  He trusts that international and domestic efforts will succeed in the promotion of a peaceful solution to the crisis through democratic means.  The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance in overcoming this crisis.

In light of the situation in Honduras and upon request from several Member States, as you know the President of the General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, convened the 91st plenary session of the General Assembly at noon today in the General Assembly Hall.  The meeting is intended to consider the situation in Central America.  But you will certainly have more details with Enrique (Yeves), who is here with us.  By the way - some people were asking - the plenary meeting of the conference on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development will be suspended for that session that is taking place right now.

** Gaza

The UN fact-finding mission on the recent Gaza conflict, mandated by the Human Rights Council and led by Justice Richard Goldstone, today completed its first round of public hearings in Gaza City.

After hearing two days of sometimes harrowing testimony – from witnesses, victims and experts – Justice Goldstone said, “As fellow human beings we would like to put on record how deeply moved we were by many of the accounts of profound suffering and grief.”

This is the first UN inquiry of its kind to hold public hearings.  And the mission says it is holding them to, “let the face of human suffering be seen and to let the voices of the victims be heard”.

In addition to hearing from people in Gaza, the mission had also wished to hold hearings in the West Bank and in southern Israel, where the population had been on the receiving end of rocket attacks launched from Gaza.  But that has not been possible, as the Government of Israel is so far not cooperating with the mission.

For that reason, the mission will hold additional public hearings in Geneva, (as I announced last week) on July 6 and 7, where they will hear from victims from Israel and the West Bank.  We have a press release from the mission in my office.

**Security Council

The Security Council today is holding an open debate on UN peacekeeping, and heard from Under-Secretaries-General Alain Le Roy and Susana Malcorra about the changes in peacekeeping over the years.

Le Roy told the Council that, in the current global environment, financial constraints press us to review the basic models of peacekeeping.  Costs, troop numbers, and capability requirements cannot all continue to rise indefinitely.  And there is no sign, he said, that demand is decreasing.

He said that the Departments for Peacekeeping Operation and for Field Services have been working on a New Horizon initiative, to help form a new Partnership Agenda for peacekeeping.  Member States have already received an executive brief of a non-paper, which will be released in July.  The non-paper will focus on critical peacekeeping tasks and functions that require a renewed consensus, measures to improve mission design, re-sourcing and deployment; proposals on assessing and building the capacities needed for future peacekeeping; and a strategy to create a stronger, more flexible support system.

Malcorra then briefed Council members on the Field Support Strategy on which her Department has taken the lead.

The Council’s open debate will continue into the afternoon, with 36 speakers inscribed.

** Darfur

On Darfur, the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur says that its Force Commander, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, was continuing his visits to the troops across Darfur this weekend.  He met with peacekeepers under his command at their bases in Graida and Marla in South Darfur.  They discussed operational matters.  He also heard their concerns.

Meanwhile, other Mission officials were in Kutum in North Darfur to verify reports of spontaneous return of refugees and displaced persons to their original villages as well as to assess their living conditions.  Villagers there told the Mission that some 2,300 families have effectively returned to the area.  They are receiving food and other aid from the World Food Programme, (WFP), and UNICEF.  Mission officials also visited Masri and El Manara for similar meetings.  The security situation across Darfur is reported calm today.

**Deputy Secretary-General Travel -- African Union Summit in Sirte

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro is leaving New York this evening for Sirte, Libya, where she will attend, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.  That meeting will last from July 1st until July 3rd.

Ms. Migiro will address the opening session of the Assembly on the Summit’s theme, which is “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”.  She will also conduct bilateral meetings with officials from Governments and multilateral organizations.  She is expected back in New York on July 3rd.

** Afghanistan

On Afghanistan, Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, addressed the Group of Eight Summit in Trieste, Italy, last week and stressed the need for investment in large infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.  Eide said that the development of infrastructure was “the most critical precondition for economic growth.” And he identified two key sectors to invest in: transport infrastructure and energy.  We have more details in today’s briefing notes from Kabul.

** Sri Lanka

At the Internally Displaced Persons camps of Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, there have been some improvements with regard to humanitarian access.  However, agencies continue to report delays and occasional denials in accessing the IDP sites.  Access procedures differ between the sites.

On funding, as of the 25th of June, the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for Sri Lanka is 48 percent funded, with more than US$74 million received out of the $155 million required.  In addition, US$24 million has been pledged by various donors.

** Rwanda

On Rwanda, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR), says that both the prosecution and defence lawyers have completed their arguments in the second so-called “military trial”.  The case involves four former Rwandan military officials.  They include Gen. Augustin Bizimungu, former chief of staff of the Rwandan army and Gen. Augustine Ndindiliyimana, former chief of staff of the Gendarmerie Nationale.  The accused are jointly charged with genocide or complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Prosecution is seeking life imprisonment for the accused.  The trial began in September 2004 and lasted 392 days of hearings, with 208 witnesses testifying.  No date has been set yet for the verdict.

**Climate Change

On climate change, the Secretary-General welcomes the initiative shown by the UK Government in announcing its “Road map to Copenhagen” proposal on financing for climate change.

This initiative comes at a critical time, and is precisely the kind of leadership that developed countries must demonstrate if the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (UNFCCC), negotiations on a new post-2012 climate change framework are to succeed.  Without a serious commitment on financing from developed countries, a deal in Copenhagen is unlikely.

The Secretary-General believes the focus on adaptation, which is at the core of the UK proposal, is particularly important given that the poorest, most vulnerable developing countries are suffering first and most acutely from the effects of climate change.  He also welcomes the reaffirmation of the principle that additional public funding, beyond existing pledges for development assistance, is necessary to finance adaptation.

The Secretary-General hopes the UK initiative, which includes a concrete resource figure, will catalyze discussion and commitments on financing from other Member States.  He strongly encourages developed countries to engage in the same spirit.


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s governing board is meeting tomorrow to address the lingering food crisis in Africa.

UNCTAD stresses that the food crisis has not disappeared from Africa and must not be ignored as governments focus on world economic difficulties.

According to UNCTAD economists, more than 300 million Africans are chronically hungry – that’s about one third of the continent’s population.  UNCTAD adds that despite somewhat lower food prices, many people are not able to afford food because of job losses and declining incomes.  Governments are also having trouble finding funds for vital agricultural reforms, because of the financial crisis.  There is more on this upstairs.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO), has added thirteen new sites to its World Heritage List.  Meanwhile, three sites have been added to the Danger List in order to help raise international support for their preservation.

UNESCO says that this is the first time that three countries have sites included on the World Heritage List.  The sites are Burkina Faso’s Ruins of Loropeni, Cape Verde’s Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande, and Kyrgyzstan’s Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain.  The full list is available upstairs.

**Cool UN

And as it seems that summer is finally here, you might notice that fewer UN male staff members will be sporting ties and that more UN employees will wear their national dress.  That’s because, although the weather hasn’t quite encouraged people to dress in lighter clothing these past weeks, the “Cool UN” initiative has resumed, here at Headquarters.

As you know, the Cool UN initiative was first implemented in the summer of 2008.  Due to its success, this year it will run for a period of three months.  Since mid-month, the thermostat settings were raised from 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in offices and from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the established conference rooms, here at Headquarters.  Of course you might feel some differences because we definitely have crazy thermostats.  The programme reduces CO2 emissions, has the effect of increasing awareness among staff and allows the UN to lead by example in the global fight against climate change.

The Cool UN trial period in August 2008 resulted in savings of 30 million pounds of steam, translating into 2,000 tonnes of CO2.  This is a carbon footprint equivalent to a passenger making 710 round-trip transatlantic flights.  Similar programmes have since been adopted by other UN offices away from Headquarters.

**No Smoking

And speaking about the Cool UN, we all know now that smoking is not so cool.  You’ll recall that, last December, the General Assembly called for a complete smoking ban at UN premises.

For his part, the Secretary-General has taken a number of steps to help create a smoke-free Headquarters.  You may have noticed new "No Smoking" signs at building entry points and the creation of partially-sheltered areas now designated for outdoor smoking.  Also, if you want to buy tobacco products at UN Headquarters, you’re now out of luck, since they’re no longer sold here.

In addition, the UN Medical Services Division offers a six-week monitored smoking cessation programme with individual follow up.  And that’s all I have for you.  Yes, John.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Will the Secretary-General be attempting to visit or attempt to visit Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and what doe she UN make of the timing of his visit coming, he’s been invited to come just as her trial is going to resume later this week?

Spokesperson:  As I said, the Secretary-General is going to try to meet all the major stakeholders, including her, but it’s not yet determined.

Question:  There has been a decision in Myanmar that two NLD officials that she had asked to testify in her defence Tin Hu and Win Tin, are not allowed to testify in the trial.  Does he think that’s a good development?

Spokesperson:  Well, he is not talking about the trial right now.  What he wants is – and he has said it over and over again - that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all the political prisoners should be released.  That was his point – and that he has been stating all along.

Question:  This is a little kind of logistical, but I wondered, in previous trips that the Secretary-General has taken, your office has sent out an email to all either UNCA members or all journalists resident here to say you’re going and if you’re interested to do it.  Was that done here, and if not, why not?

Spokesperson:  It was not done because it was decided this morning…

Question:  Right.

Spokesperson:  …that he would go to Myanmar.  What we did is that since we had such short notice, we did not send letters, ‑‑ we had no time to wait for answers ‑‑ what we did, we had a list of people who had expressed interest in going to Myanmar, and from that list we picked people who were willing to pool for others.  And you can come to my office and I can give you the list.

Question:  When you say expressed an interest, how so?  How was it known?

Spokesperson:  People have been coming to my office for almost three months now.

Question:  So asking here doesn’t count as expressing an interest?

Spokesperson:  No.  You have to come to my office and be registered on a list.  Yes.

Question:  Michèle, you told us last week that the Benazir Commission would start its work on 1 July.  Has the Commission assembled in New York and when does it plan to leave for Pakistan?

Spokesperson:  Okay, I’ll do the follow up for you on this.  You asked me that questions; indeed it was supposed to start on 1 July, so I will see whether they will be starting on time.  We’re not on the 1st of July yet.  Yes.

Question:  Thank you, Michèle.  Do you have any statement for this morning or yesterday on the Hariri government, the formation of the new government…?

Spokesperson:  No, we don’t have a statement yet.  We’re waiting for the government to be fully formed.  But as you know, certainly the Secretary-General was happy [with the conduct of] the election, he expressed himself when the election took place.

Question:  [Inaudible]

Spokesperson:  Nothing today.  We’re aware that there have been some clashes, and the Secretary-General has been asking for a peaceful resolution … (Interrupted)

Question:  [inaudible]…clashes?

Spokesperson:  We don’t have anything on that.  Just a second.  Yes.

Question:  Michèle, I just want to find out from UNHCR whether you have, you will be able to find out … there are accusations that in Pakistan there is some corruption going on in the registration of IDPs.  Can that be verified and what if anything that the United Nations will be able to do now?

Spokesperson:  You mean for access to the IDPs?

Question:  IDPs.  Accusations are that there is corruption going on in the registration of IDPs.  The reason is that they will be eligible for aid by the United Nations and some other bodies; and some of the people say that some of the people who don’t even need it are registering just to get the money.  Is that [interrupted]?

Spokesperson:  I think the best thing I have done for you this week is to invite the Special Representative for Humanitarian Assistance to Pakistan to come here.  And he should be … we should be arranging it for this week.  He won’t be coming in; we’re trying to get a video link with him so you can have a full assessment of what is happening.

Question:  In Pakistan?

Spokesperson:  Yes.

Question:  In this particular case of – a follow up on Mr. Ali’s question on Benazir Bhutto – is there a timeline that has been drawn by (name inaudible), chairman of the commission Mr Munoz? [interrupted]

Spokesperson:  Well, I had said the time [interrupted].

Question:  I believe Mr. [name inaudible] is not even in town at this time.

Spokesperson:  I have to say what I said last week is, you know, what I have, is that the commission itself has to set up; they have to set up their own timetable; they have to set up their own agenda, and they haven’t done so yet.  So, I don’t have that.  So, I’ll try to get the answer, I can try to get the answer for you on the question of when they are going to actually start; whether it’s going to be 1st of July or not.  They have to communicate to us what their decisions are in terms of who they’re going to see, what are they going to proceed and what the timetable would be.  Yes, you had something else.  Okay, well, earlier Sylviane (you did mention about…) I don’t know, you probably were not here when I said that the Secretary-General had called all the different, he had called Prime Minister Siniora and he had called Mr. Hariri.  So you know, that was last week, he had made a number of calls.  We have nothing recent; nothing today.

Question:  But today there is the reaction in France on the formation of the, on the nomination of Hariri as the head of the new government in Lebanon.  So, there is many reactions all over the place - in France, in the United States, and I was wondering if…

Spokesperson:  If he has something new, yes.

Question:  …if the Secretary-General has a statement.

Spokesperson:  Yes, we don’t at this point, no.  I think they will probably… As you know, Mr. Michael Williams is on the ground right now talking with the government.  But if we have something this afternoon, I will let you know as soon as I have it.

Question:  By the way, Mr. Williams will be coming next 7 July to present the new reports of 1701 when will the reports of the 1701 be expected to be released?

Spokesperson:  Well, as far as I know, 1701 hasn’t gone to the Security Council yet.

Question:  When [inaudible]?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know yet.  Yes.

Question:  Michèle, does the Secretary-General, given his interest in climate change, there was the passage last week of the Waxman-Markey bill in the House.  Some people say it actually allows increased coal burning until 2020.  Is that something that he has looked at and what does he think of the bill?

Spokesperson:  Well, he certainly welcomes it.  And I think he thinks it’s an important step.  This is the first time that either chamber of the US Congress has approved a mandatory ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions.  So, it certainly is an important step that the bill was passed.  And, as you know, he has urged all developed nations to take such steps, and I think certainly it is a welcome event.  Yes.

Question:  In Sri Lanka the UN is being accused by some of understating the number of people that are in special rehabilitation camps, particularly in Jafna.  It’s been said that the UN has said that there’s a hundred people in a camp Felipazi and the residents of the camp say there is 800 there.  How does the UN…[interrupted]?

Spokesperson:  These are not UN camps.  They are not UN camps, you must know that.

Question:  OCHA puts out a count, number one, OCHA puts out a count right, in this report…[interrupted]

Spokesperson:  I will check with OCHA what their numbers are based on.  But I would like to stress those are not UN camps.

Question:  You mean the rehabilitations camps or none of the camps?  You’re saying…

Spokesperson:  No, no.  They’re not UN camps.

Question:  Right, how much, what percentage of the funding for these kinds of camps is from the UN system?

Spokesperson:  Well, we can try to find out for you.

Question:  And if it was over 50 per cent would you acknowledge that it’s a UN camp or not?

Spokesperson:  That’s a hypothetical question.  Yes, Tarik.

Question:  Thank you, Michèle.  Do you have any comments about the Israeli approval announced today of building up 50 new homes in the West Bank and not freezing settlements as the Secretary-General asked the Israeli to do?

Spokesperson:  But you know, Tarik, the Secretary-General’s position on settlements has not changed; and it is quite clear there must be a full settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including from natural growth.  I am quoting here, what he had said. 

Question:  Also about the same thing about the Secretary-General.  Did he ask the Israelis to release 12,000 Palestinian prisoners that Israel has?

Spokesperson:  Well, you have asked me that question in several forms, and I have said that in all the discussions, the question of political prisoners has been one of the constant questions being raised when the Israeli officials came to the UN.  I already answered that question.

Question:  [inaudible]…in the conference, they talked about it.  Did he talk to the Israeli authorities?

Spokesperson:  You want to find out whether this was discussed during the Quartet meeting, is that your question?  I’ll try to get some additional information.  But you know the Quartet meetings are closed meetings and you had the final statement that they put out.  And it mentioned settlements.  Thank you all so much.

Question:  [inaudible]…the Korean Times, over the weekend, I guess based on an interview with the Secretary-General, says, quote: In August Ban will be back in Korea on business and for vacation.  Can you, I mean, how long will he be there for and what is the “on business” mean?

Spokesperson:  Because he has to meet some people and on, you know, on UN business.

Question:  Okay.

Spokesperson:  He will take his vacation at the same time.

Question:  Okay.  Do you have any dates yet?

Spokesperson:  I don’t have the dates yet.

Question:  Honduras, do you have anything…

Spokesperson:  Pardon me?

Question:  Honduras, do you have anything?

Spokesperson:  Honduras.  I said…

Question:  You said something?

Spokesperson:  Yes.

Question:  Okay, because I was…

Spokesperson:  And we had a statement last night that came out that was sent to all of you and that you probably have received.  It’s in your inbox.  Thank you so much.  And talking about Honduras, I am sure Enrique can give you more details about the General Assembly meeting.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Thank you.  Michèle.

Good afternoon to everybody.

As you know, the Global Economic Crisis Summit continues today as the speakers could not finish last Friday.

The total numbers of participants is 147, including 16 Heads of State.

And on another issue that you were asking, the President of the General Assembly, at the request of the Permanente Representative in Honduras and other Members States ‑‑ has called a plenary on the situation in Honduras which started something like 20 minutes ago.  The plenary will consider agenda item 20, which reads: The situation in Central America: Progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development.

In his opening remarks, President D’ Escoto said, and I am going to quote:

“As a Nicaraguan, I am ashamed that this coup has taken place in Central America during my presidency.  This is a throwback to another era that we had hoped was now a distant nightmare.  Latin America and the Caribbean have the ignominious record of being the region with the most number of military coups in the world.  This is a record that has no place in the 21st century”.  End of quote.

And this is all I have for you, but let me explain to you how the situation is going on this morning at the General Assembly for you to understand, because it might be a little bit confusing.  We had the global summit conference going on in the morning.  It has been interrupted briefly at noon for the discussion on Honduras, and it will resume afterwards.  At the time of the postponement, there were still around 15 speakers left.  Masood.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Enrique, usually the Security Council takes up an issue like this, on the request of Member States.  The President of the General Assembly took this imitative very quickly because he was outraged; is that what it is? That he immediately convened the General Assembly?

Spokesperson:  Well, the President of the General Assembly took such a decision at the request of the Member States.  First in writing by the Permanent Representative of Honduras; and then yesterday he was meeting with several ambassadors from Latin America and from other parts and then he discussed with them about the possibility and everybody was in agreement that we should send together, the General Assembly a very strong message for the military coup that has gone in Honduras and that’s why he took such a decision.

Question:  The decision was based on…I think the press release came later in the evening, or was made in the evening some time yesterday?

Spokesperson:  The decision was made during the afternoon when he met… The President of the General Assembly yesterday, Sunday, after hearing the news of the coup d'état in Honduras, called immediately his cabinet here at Headquarters.  We met here during the morning.  We issued some statements.  He was talking to the media, we issued, as you know, some press releases and then in the afternoon he was meeting with several ambassadors.  And at the request, as I said of the Permanent Representative of Honduras and some other Member States, he called this meeting for today.

Question:  Do you know if at the end of this meeting there will be a resolution adopted yet?

Spokesperson:  I don’t think now there is right a plan to put forward any draft resolution.  Or at least it wasn’t there when I left 20 minutes ago.

Question:  How long is this debate going to be? It’s going to conclude today?

Spokesperson:  We hope so, because I don’t think there are going to be so many speakers.  When I left the speaker’s list was about ten people; ten delegations.  And it’s up to them, as you know.  But we expect to finish by today, also, the economic summit.

Question:  Enrique, did anybody object that this is not the forum for the General Assembly to hold this meeting [inaudible]

Spokesperson:  Not as far as I know, not as far as I know.

Question:  Okay.

Question:  So all of them are condemning the military coup in Honduras, right?  All the ten speakers you’re talking about.

Spokesperson:  Well, right now the session is going on, and I was here when it started, so I don’t know what they’re saying.  But I assume that they are condemning the coup, I hope.  Matthew.

Question:  Enrique, the statement that was put out yesterday said, quote: d’Escoto was making a special appeal to the President of the United States.  Many are now asking if this coup is part of his new policy, as it is well known that the army in Honduras has a history of total collaboration with the United States.  In order to eliminate any doubt, Obama should [inaudible].  Is President d’Escoto satisfied with the statement that Obama, I think, had put out even before this release, at least before I got this one; he had already condemned the coup and its call for a variety of things.  What was the thinking behind this?  The Chileans were asked about it and said they differed; they disagreed with the statement.

Spokesperson:  That press release was drafted before we had any news or any knowledge of the Obama administration’s reaction.  And certainly, now the President of the General Assembly is very glad about the Obama administration’s reaction.  You have to understand that in the past history of Latin America when there has been a coup; normally it was getting the blessing of some of the powerful countries.  And President d’Escoto in his statement wanted to make sure that he was making an appeal to President Obama following his words in Trinidad and Tobago during the summit where he had called ‑‑ President Obama ‑‑ for a new policy towards Latin America; that he hoped that this policy would recognized immediately ‑‑ with an immediate recognition ‑‑ that there was a coup and that the only legal, constitutional, and democratic president elected was President Zelaya.  And then after that we got the press releases from the Obama administration and President d’Escoto is very glad about it.

Question:  Does he have any response or thoughts, President Chavez has said that his army is on alert and might take military action.  What does d’Escoto think of that?

Spokesperson:  He doesn’t have any comment on that right now.

Question:  I wanted to ask one non-Honduran thing, which is that of the $280,000 budget given to his office by the General Assembly, [interrupted]

Spokesperson:  I stop you here, Matthew.

Question:  …how much of it [interrupted]?

Spokesperson:  No, no, no.  I have already told you very clearly, Matthew.  On that issue, and I am not going again over this.  [back and forth between the two and the spokesperson refused to answer any more questions on this issue from the correspondent]  I manage this Press Conference and I am not going to reply to you.  Thank you very much.

Any other questions?  Thank you very much.

* *** *

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