|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon everybody. Welcome to the briefing.
So, as you know, the United Nations Climate Change Conference started today in Copenhagen with what Yvo de Boer, the top UN Climate Change official, called “unprecedented political momentum for a deal”.
World leaders are calling for an agreement that offers serious emission limitation goals, one that would provide significant financial and technological support to developing countries, says Yvo de Boer.
De Boer called on negotiators to focus on solid and practical proposals that will unleash prompt action on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and capacity-building.
He also spoke about the three layers of action that Governments needed to agree to by the end of the Conference. Those are: fast and effective implementation of immediate action on climate change; ambitious commitments to cut and limit emissions; and a long-term shared vision on a low-emissions future for all.
So, for his part, the Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, stressed that "the evidence is now overwhelming that the world would benefit greatly from early action and that delay would only lead to costs in economic and human terms that would become progressively high".
Negotiators now have six days to conclude their work before the Ministerial High-level Segment, which will start on 16 December. Ministers will then have two days to take any unresolved issues forward before more than 100 world leaders arrive on 17 December. And the Conference is expected to close on 18 December.
Many more than 15,000 participants -- including Government delegates and representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions -- are attending this two-week gathering.
And also, the Secretary-General is expected to make some brief remarks on climate change this afternoon, after his meeting with the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Bernard Kouchner.
**Secretary-General’s Visit to Copenhagen
And as for the Secretary-General’s travel plans, we can now confirm to you that he will be in Copenhagen next week to attend the High-level Segment and Summit of the United Nations Climate Change Conference session. The High-level Segment begins Tuesday afternoon.
And as I think you already know, the Secretary-General is scheduled to hold a press conference next Monday morning at 11 a.m. at UN Headquarters in advance of his departure for Copenhagen.
The Secretary-General is expecting a robust agreement at Copenhagen that will be effective immediately and include specific commitments on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. He says Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the world’s efforts to prevent runaway climate change and usher in a new era of green growth for all.
And so, from all corners of the globe we see unprecedented momentum for a deal. For example, more than 100 Heads of State and Government, including President [Barack] Obama and Premier Wen Jiabao, have said they will go to Copenhagen to provide their support for a global agreement. And never have so many different nations of all sizes and economic status made so many firm pledges together. As the Secretary-General says, “We must seize this moment and continue pushing for still higher ambition. Now is the time for action -- and results.”
And just another topic to do with climate change, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that countries meeting in Copenhagen may be closer than some observers realize to agreeing the emissions cuts required to give the world a reasonable chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2°C. In an analysis of national proposals for annual emissions reductions launched today, UNEP says that the gap between countries' strongest proposed cuts and what is needed may be only a few billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. And we have more on that in a press release upstairs.
Turning to Iraq, Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, today congratulated the members of the Council of Representatives on finalizing an election law that is broadly based and inclusive.
Melkert said that, during the past few weeks, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has worked intently and diligently with Council members representing all political parties and entities to facilitate a process leading to a broad agreement. He said that the Mission has advised all parties that it is feasible to hold Iraq’s elections on Saturday, 27 February. The United Nations stands ready to ensure that all support is provided to Iraq’s electoral commission to meet such a goal.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General called Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir for the sole purpose of an urgent humanitarian matter. He called to urge the President’s direct engagement in securing the release of two UNAMID [United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur] staff members who have been held hostage in Darfur for 100 days, since 29 August.
The Government has been attempting to secure their release, but they haven’t as yet been released. One of the hostages is gravely ill, and the situation is critical. The President assured the Secretary-General that everything possible was being done.
The Secretary-General also urged that the perpetrators of the two weekend attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers in North Darfur that killed five Rwandan peacekeepers be brought to justice. President Bashir indicated he had issued instructions to his security agencies that the perpetrators be apprehended as soon as possible.
In concluding the call, the Secretary-General expressed his appreciation of the Sudanese Government’s support for the recent appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Gambari as the new UNAMID Joint Special Representative.
As just mentioned, clearly, the security situation has deteriorated following these two separate attacks over the weekend, which led to the killing of five UNAMID peacekeepers and left about five others injured.
The Secretary-General has deplored these attacks and, as you’ve just heard, called on the Government of the Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice. He expresses his condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who lost their lives, and reiterates his appreciation for their service and commitment to the search for peace in Darfur.
And in a related security and safety development, the acting Joint Special Representative of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Henry Anyidoho, today met with officials from the Government of the Sudan and various humanitarian agencies to sign the terms of reference establishing a new State Joint Committee for North Darfur.
Still on Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, has expressed his concern over the detention and alleged beating of some prominent Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) leaders, opposition supporters and civil society activists during demonstrations earlier today. He also is concerned about the reported setting on fire of National Congress Party (NCP) offices.
These developments could have adverse implications for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Qazi said. He added that these developments are coming at a very critical stage in negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement. Qazi emphasized the central importance of political rights and freedoms, especially in the lead-up to the elections and referendum. And we have his full statement upstairs.
Now, Zimbabwe. Humanitarian agencies in Zimbabwe have launched an appeal for $378 million to provide humanitarian assistance to millions of people in the country throughout 2010.
Speaking during the launch in Harare, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, said, “This is a critical moment for the UN and partners to support both humanitarian and recovery activities in Zimbabwe.” She expressed the hope that donors will continue to generously support saving lives and livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe.
Although Zimbabwe’s humanitarian situation has improved, it remains fragile. About six million people remain vulnerable because of the erosion of basic services and livelihoods following the protracted economic downturn. An equal number lack access to safe water and sanitation. We have more details in a press release up in our Office.
Now in the Security Council, the Security Council has recently begun consultations on Côte d’Ivoire. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy is briefing Council members on the work being done by the UN peacekeeping operation in that country (ONUCI). draft presidential statement has been circulated by France.
Just to come back to Iraq, I have just been handed now a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the finalization of Iraq’s Election Law.
The Secretary-General congratulates the Iraqi Council of Representatives on finalizing amendments to the Election Law and commends Iraqi leaders and parliamentarians for overcoming their differences and reaching a compromise. The way is now paved to hold national elections in Iraq on a date to be determined by the Iraqi Presidency Council. The Secretary-General firmly believes that these elections will be an important step forward for Iraq’s political and democratic progress.
The Secretary-General is pleased that his Special Representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) were able to assist Iraqi political leaders in reaching this important agreement.
The Secretary-General reaffirms the United Nations commitment to provide support and technical assistance to the Independent High Electoral Commission during the electoral process, and encourages the Iraqi people and all political parties to participate in a process that will shape their country’s future and contribute to national reconciliation.
Now we’re moving on to Nepal. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights strongly cautioned the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist to exercise restraint and prevent the occurrence of further violence. And this was in view of the violence that occurred during the recent eviction drive.
The Office is verifying allegations of excessive use of force by security personnel during the eviction drive, resulting in the reported deaths of three individuals, and attacks on security forces by the individuals resisting the eviction, reportedly causing the death of one police personnel. Forty-one civilians and nine police were also injured.
While monitoring and interacting with actors on the ground to minimize further violence, the Office of the High Commissioner calls on the national actors to exercise restraint and prevent any incidents which could further aggravate the fragile situation in the region.
On Myanmar, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Assistant Administrator and Director for the Bureau for Asia, Ajay Chhibber, wrapped up a five-day mission to Myanmar on Monday, focusing on the UN’s development efforts. And during the visit, from 3 December to today, Chhibber met with key Government officials and ministries to discuss ongoing collaboration, and emphasized UNDP’s strong commitment to support the country in its future development efforts. And we have a press release on this upstairs.
Just a couple of details on press conferences: Today at 1 p.m., here in 226, Dinesh Mahtani, the Coordinator of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will brief on the final report of the Group of Experts, which is out today. And at 4:15 p.m. today, also here, Bernard Kouchner, the Foreign Minister of France, will give a briefing following his meeting with the Secretary-General.
And at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Mark Bowden, who is the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, will brief on the humanitarian situation in Somalia. So that’s what I have for you. Any questions?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Yes, Martin, now that we’re turning over a new leaf here, is it possible at all for the United Nations to give a clue in Sudan of who in different instances is doing the attacking, an armed group or militia aligned with the Government or rebel group; the Government itself? As you know, from your reporting for this news agency whose name I can’t remember (laughter), it’s very hard to write a story without knowing who did the attacking; and I thought perhaps you could use your influence to get a little more information. We can always go to websites that opposition Sudanese groups put up. It’s nicer hearing it the first time.
Spokesperson: Okay, well, I don’t have anything specific on that right now, but obviously we can try to find out. As I’ve mentioned to you, the Secretary-General has spoken to the President of Sudan to express his concern not only about these two people who have been held captive now for a 100 days, but also the killings on Friday and Saturday. Who is behind it is something that we would need to look into. We’ll certainly do that, and what we find out, we’ll let you know.
Question: Just a follow up, can I?
Question: First, if you could confirm that this is the first conversation that the Secretary-General has had with Omer al-Bashir since the indictment by the ICC [International Criminal Court], and how it plays into … supposedly the Legal Department here have told him to distance himself from Mr. Bashir because of the indictment. Sudanese media say that in his call he expressed “unrelenting backing for Omar Al-Bashir” (laughter). So, I wanted to know if that’s what he said or if they’re not misstating it.
Spokesperson: First of all, the Secretary-General has made absolutely clear that this call was made purely on humanitarian grounds. You have two people, one of whom is now, as you heard really seriously ill, gravely ill. The Secretary-General wanted to make sure that all efforts are being undertaken in Sudan to try to secure the release of these two people, who are UN peacekeepers; AU-UN peacekeepers. The second thing is that it’s absolutely right that there is advice to keep a distance, but it is absolutely vital to underscore that this is not an ordinary conversation. This was about a humanitarian intervention, and I think you need to see it in that context. And just to answer the other point, to my knowledge, it’s the first call that he has placed since that indictment.
Question: “Unrelenting backing…” is that, that’s in quotes… ?
Spokesperson: I think listen to me; not the Sudanese media.
Question: Can you tell us about this … over the weekend and then again today, there have been terrorist attacks in Pakistan which the Secretary-General of the United Nations is not taking note of?
Spokesperson: The Secretary-General is aware of the attacks, including those that have taken place just today. I don’t have anything specific for you now, but I think you’ve heard statements of concern from him before. Let’s see what we can get further on that for you.
Question: On the issue of IDPs, I know that it’s an ongoing issue and you don’t, I mean OCHA does not release the figures every day, but I just want to find out on record whether the appeal, the Humanitarian Appeal for Pakistan, which was last that I heard was 62 per cent [fulfilled], has it been increased or is it still standing at 62 per cent?
Spokesperson: I don’t have anything further on that at the moment. Let’s see if I can find out more about that, okay?
Question: I wanted to ask you on the Haidar case, Aminatou Haidar. She’s entering the third week on hunger strike and there is a lot of concern about her health. What is the Secretary-General doing after Spain asked him to help, partly to convince Morocco to let her back in? Has there been any contact by either the Secretary-General or Mr. Christopher Ross with the Moroccan authorities? What is the United Nations doing there?
Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General remains concerned about the condition of Ms. Haidar; this we can tell you, and we reiterate the appeal that was made last week by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in which he called on Spain and Morocco to consider any measure that could facilitate [a resolution of the issue] and end the current impasse. The UN is looking for ways it can help to resolve Ms. Haidar’s situation.
Question: But have there been any conversations by Mr. Ross or the Secretary-General with Moroccan authorities?
Spokesperson: This is what I have for you at the moment. I’ll see if we have anything further, but this is what I have at the moment.
Question: Is there any particular reaction from the United Nations to the fact that there has been an attempt to take her in an aeroplane back to Morocco, and then the Moroccan authorities refused to let her land -- any particular reaction to this attitude of the Moroccan authorities?
Spokesperson: Like you, I’ve heard the reports, we’ve heard the reports and what I have for you is what I just told you. Any further questions?
Question: You mentioned the Secretary-General will have some comments following, you said, after his appearance with Mr. Kouchner today at the stakeout or upstairs?
Spokesperson: That, right. I need to clarify that. I believe it’s actually upstairs, and then Minister Kouchner will come here separately for his briefing at 4:15 p.m. But the joint remarks I think are upstairs; but let me clarify that for you.
Question: Yes, will there be access for everyone…
Spokesperson: Exactly, I’ll find out for you.
Question: Does the Secretary-General have any comment regarding the crackdown at the universities in Tehran over the weekend?
Spokesperson: He does. At the moment, we only have limited information based on today’s press reports. However, as in any such situation, the Secretary-General is hoping that calm and restraint will prevail. And that’s what I have at the moment.
Question: Does the UN have any capability to independently verify what’s going on in Tehran? I mean, it has a UN Office in Tehran; is there any effort being made by the UN to independently … because you’re telling us here you’ve limited information; but are you making any effort to get more than limited information?
Spokesperson: Well, as you point out, we do have a presence there, and I’m sure that colleagues will be doing their best to find out what’s going on. This is the information that I have at the moment.
Question: Yes, but the press is largely, or the foreign press is largely, banned from Tehran; banned from covering demonstrations. Could we get from the United Nations an account of what the United Nations think is going on in Tehran?
Spokesperson: Let’s what I can get.
Question: First, ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States] has issued a call that the military Government of Guinea step down. I wonder if the UN, the Secretariat and Said Djinnit, whether they joined in that call or they think they should remain in power.
Spokesperson: What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General is following the situation, and he calls for calm and reiterates the need to avoid violence and to respect the rule of law. And he’s also instructed his Special Representative for West Africa [Said Djinnit] to remain actively engaged with national and regional stakeholders in the search for a solution that provides the people of Guinea an opportunity to elect their leaders in a democratic way.
Question: You’ve mentioned Ibrahim Gambari in your readout and the call with President Bashir. Apparently, earlier today in Nigeria, he gave a speech in which he called, he said that the country, Nigeria, lacked visionary and motivational leadership. It’s unclear, do you know if he’s travelling in a UN capacity? Does he take a leave of absence before he starts this thing in Darfur? In what capacity is he there?
Spokesperson: I do not know the answer to that at the moment. I need to find out, okay? We’ll find out for you. [He later said that Gambari was on annual leave and attended the meeting in his private capacity.]
Richard, just to come back on the press encounter which will be on the thirty-eighth floor. It’s UNTV only. So, you’ll have a feed of that.
Correspondent: Press encounter, but there is no press there! (Laughter)
Spokesperson: That may be the case …
Question: Can we make some arrangements for some press to go and ask some questions or was it just a video press release?
Spokesperson: Let’s take this one at a time, okay? One at a time. First of all, the parlance, press encounter or not, let me figure out whether I got that wrong. Maybe I got it wrong; it happens on a first day. The second thing is that Bernard Kouchner will be coming down here to brief you on his meeting with the Secretary-General. As I’ve also mentioned, the Secretary-General will be coming here before he goes to Copenhagen for a press conference, and you will be able to ask all kinds of questions at that point. So, that’s going to be on Monday.
Correspondent: He could -- as he’s done in the past, and since this is a newsy day, and we don’t want to wait a week -- come down with the French Minister to this stakeout at the Security Council, which sometimes he does, and then be available for a question or two about some of the questions today.
Spokesperson: All right. Okay, I hear what you’re saying. Just to be clear, the press conference with Minister Kouchner is right here.
Question: Does the UN have any calculation as to how many carbons are emitted in all the events in Copenhagen?
Spokesperson: I don’t know the answer. Let’s see if we can find out. I’m sure if you were to ask our colleagues there, they have all kinds of figures. It might be a good idea to try it directly with them.
Correspondent: We did ask Janos Pasztor that question last, and he said that when everybody was there they would compile a list of everybody who was there so that they could calculate the amount they need to offset for the UN presence.
Question: So, since everybody should be there now, there should be a figure; if the figure that needs to be offset now?
Spokesperson: You’re right. Well, let’s see if we can find it out for you, James.
Question: And also to follow up, since Kouchner’s trip here has to do with the same topic; how much emission involved in that?
Spokesperson: (Laughter) I think that is something that you could ask Mr. Kouchner this afternoon. I’m sure he’ll be only too happy to tell you. (Laughter)
Question: Yes, Martin, just a different topic. Has there been contact among the Quartet parties on the Middle East peace process late last week to discuss the Israeli Government decision to freeze partly settlements for 10 months? There have been some press reports on that.
Spokesperson: I’ve also seen the press reports, but I don’t have anything for you on that at the moment.
Question: Sorry, Martin, can you also check if the US wanted to release a statement at that time praising the Israeli Government’s decision and that this was opposed by other members of the Quartet?
Spokesperson: This is something that you can ask the Americans, I think.
Question: Has anybody in the United Nations -- the Secretary-General or anybody else -- talked to the Israeli authorities about opening up of the Gaza crossings, which have been closed, ever since, for about, years? Has anybody, (cross-talk)… I know there are ongoing talks, but every now and then there is an update. Has there been at all recently sort of a conversation between United Nations authorities or the Secretary-General with the Israeli Government?
Spokesperson: Let me find out.
Question: One more on the Quartet?
Correspondent: The European Union is considering a resolution brought up by Sweden, which is obviously very … It’s not supported here in the US …?
Spokesperson: We’re not in the US right here.
Spokesperson: We’re in the United Nations.
Question: Right! And the UN is part of the Quartet, which includes the European Union and the US. Where does the US, the UN stand on this?
Spokesperson: Okay, again, I need to find out. Yes. We can find out. Just to come back, Masood, you were asking about the appeal on Pakistan. It’s 72 per cent funded.
Question: When this Congo report, the Panel of Experts, first came out, before you were here, what they said, there would be no comment until it was put out officially. So it came out officially today. It seems to indicate that the peacekeeping mission, MONUC [the UN Mission in the DRC], among other things, supports FARDC [Congolese Armed Forces] units that are involved in illegal mining in the Congo. I just wonder -- I know we’ll have the expert later, speaking -- but what is the UN Secretariat and DPKO’s [Department of Peacekeeping Operations’] response to the portions of the report that seem to indicate the UN actually supporting the exploitation of resources in the Congo?
Spokesperson: I think this is very much something for the expert who will be coming to speak to you. I’d rather defer to him on that.
Question: He is an independent expert, so he’s not going to speak for the UN. He’s going to go out of his way to say he doesn’t work for the UN, he’s not controlled by the UN. So, I mean, maybe you are not going to respond here, but I am assuming in a little while, somebody will have some response to it?
Spokesperson: Let’s start with what I said, and if there is something to add, we’ll certainly share it with you.
Question: There is a proposal by the Secretary-General about human resources management; continuing contracts. He made a big proposal to change permanent contracts into something else. I’ve just heard that it’s been withdrawn, that the proposal was no longer being put forward. Can you, I guess speak to Angela Kane or …?
Spokesperson: Let’s see what we can find out. All right, thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Question: What do you think of your first briefing?
Spokesperson: I beg your pardon?
Question: What do you think of your first briefing?
Spokesperson: It’s for you to decide, I think.
Question: Could you ask if you could start the briefings on time? You know, for years until Ban Ki-moon came, and Michèle came, the noon briefing started at noon. For those of us who have deadlines, it would be nice if we could actually start at noon.
Spokesperson: James, I am a punctual person by nature. I think you will also recognize this is my first day.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
By the way actually, Martin, since this is your first day, I’d very much like to join others in congratulating and warmly welcoming you here as the new Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Spokesperson for the Secretary-General: Thank you very much. I’m just going to just stay here with.
Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly: Thank you.
Earlier today, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr Ali Abdussalam Treki, opened the plenary debate on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance.
President Treki stated that “the world continues to be faced with complex emergencies which leave whole communities devastated. Without much warning, lives are shattered and families uprooted. Climate change, pandemics, the global food and financial crisis affect populations across the world and have created new emergencies. The work of the United Nations in responding to humanitarian crises remains as important as ever”.
President Treki called on Member States to “provide the necessary financial resources in order to enable the United Nations and other international and regional organizations working in the field of humanitarian assistance to effectively undertake their crucial tasks”.
His statement is available. Questions? Yes.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Why did the General Assembly President not come up to give his speech at the United Nations Correspondents Association dinner that we were told he wanted to speak, and I think something was prepared and there has to be a reason?
Spokesperson: That is absolutely correct. I will ask him again, but maybe you were so good at what you were doing that he didn’t want to upstage you!
Correspondent: (Inaudible) … the SG, so I don’t know.
Spokesperson: I’ll ask him. But you were really fantastic that night, I have to say. Well done. Yes, Matthew.
Question: I just wanted the same question I had asked Martin: is there a way you can confirm that the Budget Committee has put forward a draft resolution saying that the staff rules should remain the same for the coming year and that, in fact, means the proposals for the human resources put forward by the Secretary-General have been withdrawn? I just want to get from both, I guess, both sides of that questions.
Spokesperson: I hear you. I’ll check that with the relevant Committee and come back to you.
Question: And is the President, is Ali Treki going to go to Copenhagen at any point?
Spokesperson: No. Unless this changes in the next few days, no he is not going. Yes.
Question: What day are the Third Committee human rights resolutions going to be adopted in the GA? DO you have a date on that?
Spokesperson: I do not want to quote a day that may have to be corrected later. I can tell you this afternoon very quickly the exact dates.
Question: Is there a date for the first planned briefing in the Library, even though broadcasters may still be working out of this building, which they’re trying to freeze us out of based on the temperatures today, do you know?
Spokesperson: That’s a question for the CMP, I’d say.
Question: So you have not been told of a date?
Spokesperson: Not in specifics. But I think the CMP would be better placed to provide the response to your question. Yes.
Question: I spoke to Treki last week and it wasn’t clear from his answer. Does he support the two-State solution?
Spokesperson: Following your question to him, he put out a full and detailed response to your questions. I can provide them to you again if you so wish.
Question: The question is specific: does he support the two-State solution?
Spokesperson: I can provide the specific response that he put in writing.
Question: Cross-talk between correspondents) … I mean, does he support the two-State or the (inaudible) proposed by President [Muammar] Gaddafi?
Spokesperson: President Treki believes that the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital is a condition for a just and fair solution.
Correspondent: That does not answer my question. Please answer my question.
Spokesperson: I will not go beyond what President Treki has already put in writing and which we have circulated to everyone. And we referred to questions that you did put to him.
Question: So let me rephrase the question. Is it a problem for him that the country that he represents does not support the two-State solution, that in fact it publicly supported a one-State solution? Is it a problem for him to address that question?
Spokesperson: President Treki represents all the Member States of the General Assembly, and if you have a specific query regarding the country where President Treki comes from, you may well address that query to the Permanent Mission of Libya. But when it comes to this very specific question, President Treki has responded in line with UN resolutions.
Question: Oh now, hold on a minute! That’s not true. Does he recognize the existence of Israel, President Treki?
Spokesperson: The President is the President of the General Assembly and Israel is a Member State of the GA. I mean …
Question: So the answer is …?
Spokesperson: I mean, your question is obsolete. I don’t think … (Interrupted)
Question: Well, what’s the answer? Yes or no? Does he recognize the existence of Israel?
Spokesperson: That goes without saying. The President of the General Assembly recognizes the existence of Israel and all Member States of the General Assembly. He is the President of the General Assembly; Israel is a recognized and fully-fledged Member State of the GA.
Question: So, when you say he supports the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, you’re talking in addition to the existing UN Member State, Israel, is that correct?
Spokesperson: I do not want to make a conflagration of …
Question: …was that the State of Israel?
Spokesperson: You are speaking there, not President Treki. You have to go back to his statement. Did you …?
Question: (Cross-talk between correspondents) … His statement doesn’t mention. … He doesn’t seem to be able to answer the most simple question on Middle Eastern policy, which is: Does he believe in the two-State solution, which is UN policy? It’s embedded in General Assembly resolutions, it’s the position of the Secretary-General; he doesn’t seem to be able to answer the questions. It’s kind of extraordinary.
Spokesperson: The President of the General Assembly speaks on behalf of all Members States of the GA, and his statements are in line with all UN resolutions. And as you say, these resolutions recognize the State of Israel. I don’t know why you keep on asking the President if he supports this or that … (Interrupted).
Question: (Cross-talk) … If I might ask why President Treki is not going to Copenhagen. He does not think it’s an important issue? That climate change …
Spokesperson: Not at all. If we may just … I’ll come back to that Khaled. It’s not that I’m trying to run away from a very important and good question. Let’s just make this clear. The President of the General Assembly, Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, represents all Member States. And he recognizes all Member States, and that it, obviously without saying, includes Israel. And the President believes, however, that in line with your question, the creation, the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, is a key condition to a just and fair solution.
Question: Yes, but he told me that in candour, he told me specifically, that, with the settlements, he’s not sure that two States is even possible. So he doesn’t know. That’s a quote. So my question to you is, does he support the two-State solution or are you going to hide behind “he supports every resolution in the world”?
Spokesperson: Not at all. Nobody is hiding behind anything here. What the President was telling you was that the question of the settlements has become a complicating factor, and this is a matter of fact.
Correspondent: He didn’t say complicating; he said he was not sure that two States is possible.
Spokesperson: He actually said in his statement, he made reference to the settlements in his statement, and his statement was very clear on what the settlements were doing to a possible outcome. That is very clear and that is written and that is being shared with all. So we cannot go beyond what President Treki has said so clearly on the question of the settlements.
Question: Everything I agree with except for the word “clearly”, which is not very clear here. I mean, I have to agree that I’m still confused about whether President Treki supports a two-State solution.
Spokesperson: He supports … (interrupted)
Correspondent: He would seem unable to say that, so that’s why I am confused.
Spokesperson: Well, I think that if you want to put two things that are not together in his statement, this is where I do not want to go. But what I am responding to you is to say the President recognizes the State of Israel, Israel is a Member State of the General Assembly. The President, however, believes that the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital is a condition to a fair solution in the Middle East. Yes, Khaled.
Question: Climate change; why isn’t he going to Copenhagen?
Spokesperson: I will ask. I will ask. (Laughter). And provide a response.
Question: (Inaudible cross-talk)
Spokesperson: Well, you were here a few days ago when President Treki convened a meeting of the GA, a meeting that was very successful.
Question: (Inaudible comment from correspondent)
Spokesperson: No, I mean, the question is not fair. You know that climate change has been very central in the priorities of this session and the President of the General Assembly, and that in this very room he held a press conference not long ago following a plenary discussion at the General Assembly on this same subject. So for him that is very important. And he actually held that session hours after returning from the Summit in Rome; FAO Summit. So for him that’s really important. That he is not going to Copenhagen is something I will ask and I’ll come back to you on that.
Question: Given that he recognizes the State of Israel, does that mean that he thinks that “Isratine”, the proposal by the Libyan leader for a single State in Palestine is not a viable solution to the Middle East conflict?
Spokesperson: You may well have to ask the Libyan leader, so the Libyan … (Interrupted) …
Question: No, I’m not asking … I’m asking, given that Ali Treki recognizes the State of Israel, does that mean he doesn’t believe that “Isratine” is a viable solution to the Middle East conflict?
Spokesperson: We have said here from the very beginning that Dr. Treki, as the President of the General Assembly, will not comment and will not be dragged into commenting on specific statements or positions taken by any specific Member State, including his own country of origin. He is speaking as the President of the General Assembly, and it is in this capacity that he would be very happy to respond. Have a good afternoon.
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