Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

27 April 2017

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.


The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, briefed the Security Council this morning on Syria, noting the intensified fighting on numerous fronts over the last month.  He asserted that attacks against medical facilities are completely unacceptable and must stop.  He also said that we await the results of investigations regarding the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun earlier this month.

He said that he is also gravely concerned about the situation in besieged eastern Ghouta, outside of Damascus, where the UN has been unable to get access to some 400,000 people since last October; and in Raqqa, he said, the situation for people fleeing the fighting who are living in camps is difficult, with four out of five people lacking proper shelter.

He also cited a number of essential steps for the way forward, including a consolidation of the nationwide ceasefire, and in particular a pause in fighting in eastern Ghouta to enable the delivery of aid; and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructures by all parties to the conflict.  His remarks are available in my office.


Also related to Syria, I have a senior personnel appointment.  The Secretary-General is announcing today the appointment of Edmond Mulet of Guatemala to lead the JIM, the panel that will lead the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, as I said, known as the JIM.  The JIM was, as you will recall, established by the Security Council in 2015 on the use of chemicals weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Secretary-General reiterates his deepest gratitude for the outstanding leadership that Virginia Gamba showed as head of the JIM, for her diligence, dedication and professionalism.  You will recall that Ms. Gamba will be taking over the position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Mr. Mulet most recently served, as you will remember, as Chef de Cabinet to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and prior to that he was Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and also served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).


Going back to the Middle East, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, approved today the allocation of $500,000 from the Humanitarian Fund for the purchase of emergency fuel to maintain the delivery of essential services at hospitals and other emergency medical facilities in Gaza.

In a statement, he further warned that following the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant on 16 April, with power outages at 20 hours a day and emergency fuel supplies running out, basic services are grinding to a halt.

Fuel to power back-up generators at 7 out of the 13 hospitals in Gaza is expected to run out within three days.  Water and sanitation facilities are already faltering due to lack of energy.

Funds to mitigate the immediate emergency fuel shortages are needed, as is resolving the financial disagreement between Gaza and Ramallah.

**South Sudan

The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, who was here yesterday, today issued a statement urging the warring parties in the country to stop the suffering they are causing, and to take responsibility for the lives they have destroyed and to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians, as fighting intensifies once again in the north-eastern Upper Nile region.

Up to 25,000 people have reportedly fled their homes on the West Bank of the River Nile over the last few days.  Thousands have reportedly fled to the town of Aburoc, 30km north of Kodok, where there is now an estimated 50,000 people.

Mr. Shearer said he is extremely concerned for the displaced people in Aburoc.  He called on Government forces to show restraint and on opposition fighters who may be hiding in the town to detach themselves, so the civilian population does not become a target.  The UN Mission is trying to gain access to Aburoc as quickly as possible but it was denied clearance by the Government forces to launch an air patrol to the town.


And from Sudan, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Marta Ruedas, today welcomed the decision by the Government to open a third humanitarian corridor for aid to be delivered from Sudan to South Sudan.

This additional route, from El Obeid in central Sudan to Aweil in Bahr el Ghazal state in South Sudan, will allow the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver an additional 7,000 metric tons of sorghum to support the 540,000 people in need of food assistance in the area.  The first convoy is expected to go through this new route next week.


Today the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its latest Civilian Casualty Data report, which shows a continued high number of civilian casualties in the country.

In the first quarter of the year, UNAMA documented 2,181 civilian casualties, a 4 per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2016.  The Mission welcomed this decrease but noted that the reduction in numbers may be related to the movement of civilians from areas severely affected by conflict.

UNAMA continues to urge all parties to the conflict to take immediate measures to better protect civilians from harm.


Today our friends at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced the appointment of Syrian refugee and Olympic athlete Yusra Mardini as a Goodwill Ambassador.

Welcoming her appointment, the High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi said:  “Yusra is a deeply inspiring young woman.  Through her powerful personal story, Yusra represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

As you will recall, she participated as a swimmer in 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.


Experts from 16 countries are meeting at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) laboratories in Monaco this week to review the latest methods to detect the origin of oil and paraffin spills in the oceans, which poses a danger to marine life.

The meeting of the Bonn Agreement Oil Spill Identification Network of Experts (OSINet) brings together representatives from Government institutions, private sector organizations and universities that work on oil spill identification.  More information on their website.


And today is International Girls in ICT (information and communications technology) Day and celebrations are under way around the world, with events showcasing the technological skills of girls and young women.

The day is organized annually by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  This year, the ITU organized virtual meetups of girls in Geneva, Vilnius and Beirut through a shared game apps so they could meet mentors from the tech sector, take a robotic workshop and watch demonstrations of augmented reality projects, among other activities.


I also want to correct the record on a question that was asked yesterday about Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.  I just want to state as a fact that he did visit Taizz on 9 April and he issued a statement following the visit, which is available online as is obviously on the record.

**Press Briefings

At 1:15 p.m. this afternoon, there will be a press conference here entitled “Three years after the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples — progress on the ground” with various representatives of Indigenous Peoples from Namibia, El Salvador and Norway.

**Honour Roll

And today, we say a big thanks to our friends in Tokyo, because Japan has paid its regular budget dues in full with a payment of over $129 million USD.  And that brings the honour roll to?

Correspondent:  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  89.  It was even in the answer.  Anyway… [laughter] I’m ready for my augmented reality.

**Questions and Answers


Question:  Yeah, thank you, Stéphane.  Mr. O’Brien spoke about this horrendous attack in… near Aleppo in Rashideen.  However, he did not mention… although he praised the humanitarian workers and the ambulances which rushed to the place to evacuate those who were wounded, he did not mention that 250 of those who were taken by ambulances have disappeared, and still nobody is accounting for them.  He did not even call for accountability for the attack or investigation for it.

Spokesman:  I think Mr. O’Brien gave a very impassioned and very strong statement, which paints an extremely bleak picture of the suffering of the Syrian people.  And I think, every time he briefs, the picture seems to be getting bleaker.  It is clear that we have repeatedly called for and continue to call for the… make sure that all those who are missing are found, those who are detained against their will are liberated.  I think the fact that he may not have mentioned one or more incidents doesn’t take away from the strength of his briefing in his appeal to all the parties involved to halt the suffering of the Syrian people wherever they are.

Question:  Well, he did not… not only did not mention the 250 people who are still missing, he did not… he praised those who kidnapped them.  He praised the humanitarian ambulances…

Spokesman:  I don’t think… that’s your interpretation…

Correspondent:  No, this is… I can read… I can read…  I can read that from the statement. [inaudible]

Spokesman:  That is not my interpretation.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Spokesman:  Nizar, what is the question?

Question:  Will the Secretary‑General call for investigation where these people have been kidnapped?

Spokesman:  It is clear, if people are missing, they need to be found, and there needs to be accountability for the suffering the Syrian people have been going under for so long.  Yes, and then we’ll go… Mr. Avni.

Question:  Thank you.  Two questions, one on Syria, one on that statement you read on Gaza.  Syria, there was a report overnight of large explosions next to the Syr… Damascus Airport.  Syrian officials ascribed it to Israel.  Does the Secretary‑General have any information on that or anything to say about it?

Spokesman:  No.  We’re… we’ve obviously seen the reports of the explosion near Damascus Airport.  We are unable to identify what happened.  We have no way of knowing what caused or who caused the explosion.  I think, mindful of the risks of escalation, we appeal to all concerned to prevent further tension and to abide strictly by international law.  And on Gaza?

Question:  On Gaza, I think you don’t like that formulation, but I think, again, you kind of, like, buried the lede there.  There was in the… yesterday, the Palestinian Authority announced that it would stop payments for electricity in Gaza.  Doesn’t that have anything to do with… with the situation in… in… in the power…?

Spokesman:  I think we made it clear that the issues that we’re seeing between Ramallah and Gaza need to be resolved, that the people of Gaza should not be made to suffer even more because of political discord and, I think, as the Secretary‑General has called for unity talks to actually go forward and to produce needed unity for the people of… to end the suffering of the people of Gaza.  Yes, ma’am?

Question:  Hi, Stéphane.  North Korea has agreed to the visit of the UN expert on human rights.  Ms. Catalina Devandas‑Aguilar will be there from the 3rd to the 8th of May.  How does the Secretary‑General receive this unprecedented visit by an independent member of the United Nations going to North Korea, especially right now that the situation is ramping up from North Korea, as well as from the United States in their rhetoric?  And then we’ll have a meeting tomorrow at the Security Council with the Secretary of State.  What are we expecting from this particular visit and how that could be in a way a jumpstart for a diplomatic solution?

Spokesman:  Listen, I can’t speculate as to what the visit will lead to.  I haven’t seen the particular report if, in fact, it is the case and the Special Rapporteur is able to go.  I think it is a positive thing when countries, any country, cooperates with the human rights mechanisms and allows for the visits of rapporteurs to go forward and to be able to visit freely and see what they need to see once they’re in the country.  The meeting tomorrow is being called by the United States, which holds the presidency.  The Secretary‑General has been requested to brief, and he will do so.  What the meeting will… the outcome of the meeting, I think it’s… and what the expectations are, I think you should ask the US presidency.  For his part, the Secretary‑General will also have a number of bilateral meetings with some of the visiting foreign ministers tomorrow.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask you, on… in… in terms of appointments, I’d asked you, I think, on Monday about Michel Kafando as envoy to Burundi.  And now the media there is reporting that he has taken the job le remplacement Jamal Benomar en fin de mandat.  So I’m just wondering, what… what…

Spokesman:  I think the announcement of a remplacement/no remplacement will come from here, so people are free to speculate until there’s an official announcement either in paper or from myself, from the Secretary‑General himself.

Correspondent:  Unless it comes from Mr. Kafando.

Spokesman:  I think I just answered that.

Question:  Okay.  What I wanted to ask is that I’d asked about Burundi, and there’s some people there… it’s a pretty big story in the country that this Oscar Ntasano, who was renting his property to the UN, has… had his driver killed and is… is missing.  So people are saying basically he was targeted because he was working with the UN.  What I wanted to know, is there anyone in the UN system looking into this disappearance?

Spokesman:  I can’t…  I haven’t gotten any specific information from our colleagues in Burundi.  Obviously, I think anyone’s murder or disappearances needs to be investigated.

Question:  And the D2 Vivian van de Perre…

Spokesman:  I don’t have any… I don’t have any update for you on that.  Yeah, go ahead, Erol.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Now that we know that the Secretary‑General is not going to meet President… US President, Mr. Trump, for some time, probably or no, but… and the US media is full of reports that they are very…

Spokesman:  I don’t think you know that.  I don’t know that.  We don’t know that.

Question:  Okay.  I accept that.  We speculate that he’s not going to…

Spokesman:  You may speculate freely.

Question:  Yeah, especially Bosnia reporter is speculating on that.  [laughter]  All right.  And that the US meeting is full of reports that somehow devastating negligence of these US… new US Administration on global warming and climate changes.  And I know this is on the top of the agenda of this Secretary‑General as well.  Does Secretary‑General feel or needs to react and to probably speed… use that to speed up the meeting?  And would he meet tomorrow Secretary [Rex] Tillerson…

Spokesman:  Yes, he will have… go ahead.

Question:  And is he going to address probably that, as well?

Spokesman:  We’ll see what issues come up.  He is meeting… he is meeting Secretary of State Tillerson in the afternoon, a bilateral meeting.  The Secretary‑General will also participate in the luncheon organized by the Security Council presidency.  On climate change, the Secretary‑General has made his position known.  We are not going to speculate on what may or may not be the positions of the US Government.  It is clear that, for us, the US is a major… United States in its rank of… as… on the top of the global economies, has a major role to play in mitigating climate change.  And we look… we continue to look for engagement, both US Administration and the private sector, on this issue.  The Secretary‑General met briefly with President [Donald] Trump last week.  They agreed to meet again in the near future, so I’m sure that will happen.

Question:  In‑house question, if I may?

Spokesman:  Sorry?

Question:  One in‑house question, if I may?

Spokesman:  Of course… I love in‑house questions.

Question:  All right.  When the Secretary‑General will give a full‑scale press conference on general topic issues, not on the specific…?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary‑General is keen to face the press when he has something to announce.

Question:  Stéphane, did the Secretary‑General send an answer to the Foreign Minister of Greece?

Spokesman:  Yes, we did receive the letter.  Once… I will check on… on a response, but I assume we will let the recipients of the response know before we talk about it publicly, but I will keep you posted.

Question:  I have another question, please.  The Foreign Minister of Greece accusing Mr. [Espen Barth] Eide that he’s behind the negative publicity and the articles in the foreign media against him.  Do you have any comment on this?  And, also, can you tell us who is paying Mr. Eide, the United Nations, somebody else?

Spokesman:  Mr. Eide is a staff member of the United Nations.  We continue to have full confidence in the work that he does and the work that his team does on this very important issue of Cyprus.  Yep.  Hold on a second.  Yep.  Madame President, not Sidi Rais.  Yes, go ahead.

Question:  On Palestinian prisoner issue, incidentally, any comment… there are some reports today that the Israeli forces used force against prisoners on… when they tried to make… the forces tried to force them to… for a body search, a naked body search, and the prisoners… some of the prisoners refused.  And there are also other reports about… that maybe the Israeli forces are going to use force‑feeding and also about that they are going to stop salt, giving salt to the prisoners, since the prisoners were striking now.  So these are according to Palestinian NGOs organisations… NGOs.  Any comment on that?  And is there somebody from the UN who is in contact with…

Spokesman:  Sure, we’re obviously all following this very closely.  Our off… colleagues at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are in the lead.  According to them, some 1,500 prisoners have reportedly joined the strike demanding, among other things, obviously, an end to administrative detention and solitary confinement.  The hunger strikers are also demanding improved conditions in detention, including an increase in the number and length of family visits.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights has repeatedly called on Israel to end its practise of administrative detention and cease holding Palestinian detainees outside of the Occupied Territory.  Regardless of where or on what legal basis these people are held, the treatment of detainees must be, in any event, consistent with international law and especially the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Question:  Is there some… sorry.  Is there somebody who’s following up, like, on the ground visiting the…

Spokesman:  I think our… we do not… the UN has no access to the hunger strikers.  Our colleagues on the ground from the UN Human Rights Office are following closely.  Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Do you have a scheduled meeting for the Security Council this afternoon and on Monday?

Spokesman:  I do not know of any scheduled meetings this afternoon.  I think that’s a question for my friend Mr. [Jonathan] Wachtel, who should be able to tell you.  Richard, then Ben.

Question:  I’ll give it a try, though.  Since the Secretary‑General’s talk with the President of the United States and since the Security Council’s lunch and visit, does the UN Secretary‑General believe the tone of relations has improved, and has he, perhaps, given some optimism about… to himself about dealing with the US, or is he ever vigilant about the relationship and what could still happen regarding budget cuts?

Spokesman:  I think one can be optimistic, realist, and ever vigilant all at the same time.  The Secretary‑General, as he told me, had a very good conversation with President Trump.  I think we all saw the comments that he made… public comments he made during lunch with the Security Council, which, again, as he had tweeted, I think, just before his inauguration, talked about the potential of the United Nations.  The Secretary‑General remains very engaged on all issues of mutual concern with the US and the UN and notably on questions of reform, primarily through the Permanent Representative here in New York.  Ben.  And then…

Question:  Is the Secretary‑General concerned about PA (Palestinian Authority) payments to the families of terrorists?

Spokesman:  About what?  Sorry?

Question:  About payments to the families of terrorists who have committed crimes, killed Americans, Israelis and others.  What has he got to say about that?

Spokesman:  Well, we do think that the issue of terrorism should be addressed through the most judicial… through legal pathways that the victims need to be… need to be honoured and kept at the centre.  We have no specific information on payments that may or may not be made.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Is there a… is there a worry that aid money that goes to the Palestinians is being… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I think, in terms of the UN’s money, the… the aid… the money that is funnelled through UN agencies is very closely monitored and audited.

Question:  Thank you.  Thank you, Stéphane.  I’d just like to go back to the issue of the Humanitarian Coordinator on the ground in Yemen.  When I mentioned yesterday the criticism of the legitimate government to the Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, this was mentioned in relation to the letter of 26 February to the Secretariat.  By 26 February, they were criticising him for not visiting Taizz for more than a year.  That was on 26 February.  Your answer, the Secretariat answer or the humanitarian office answer to the Yemenis was on 2 April.  So, even by the time they wrote the answer… so, even by the time they wrote answer to the Yemenis declaring their full confidence in this gentleman, they… he hasn’t visited Taizz yet.  He went to Taizz a week later after the letter of 2 April; hence there’s no correction needed, because the Yemeni were absolutely correct that, by 26 February, when they wrote the letter and even by the answer he received from the Chief of Staff here at the Secretariat, he hasn’t visited Taizz, one of the most… the worst part, you know, affected.

Spokesman:  I apologise if I misheard or misunderstood your question.  I think the point here… the important point is that the Humanitarian Coordinator has gone to Taizz.  Right?  He has gone there.  If you’ll remember and if I recall correctly, when Mr. O’Brien himself was in Yemen, he had tried to go and was unable to go.  And I think he made a very public… he made it very public the fact that he was blocked from going.  And I think a day or so after he tried to go, the aid was finally able to go through.  I think the impartiality of the UN’s humanitarian work, whether it’s in Yemen or in other places, as far as we’re concerned, should not be questioned.  I think we have called out and… various parties to all conflicts when aid has not gone through.  I completely understand that some party or another may not be happy with the work, but we stand fully by and behind Mr. McGoldrick.

Question:  But if I may follow up, by the time they criticised him, he did not go, and so they were right in their criticism at the time.  And, also, it’s not the only criticism about him, his bias, his… his silence on recruiting of children, his silence on arrests of journalists.  There are so many litany of accusation to him.  But what I’m trying to say is, in the end, it’s a sovereign country, and this is a sovereign government that you and the… the international community recognised as a legitimate government.  And, if they ask you that this person is not desired or should be changed, shouldn’t you respect as a United Nation the sovereign right?

Spokesman:  I think… nobody more than the Secretary‑General understands that this organization is made up of 193 sovereign Member States.  All right?  That’s a fact, and that’s a given.  There is an exchange of letters between the Member States and the organization.  The member… where opinions are expressed, we answer them.  At the end of the day, the UN… wherever we are, the UN operates with the cooperation of the local authorities, unless you’re talking about a Chapter VII resolution.  So we will continue to engage with the Government of Yemen, and we look forward to getting more letters from them.

Correspondent:  But they’re telling you there is no cooperation.  They have no contact with this gentleman.  [inaudible]  And you can’t… you telling me yesterday he is in touch with the parties he needs to be in touch with.  Well, definitely, one of the important parties is the legal Government of the country.

Spokesman:  Well, I didn’t hear a question mark at end of that, so I’ll move on.  Matthew?

Question:  Thanks.  Thanks a lot.  I have several questions.  I’ll do them as quickly as I can.  First, you had said about President Trump’s… talking about the potential of the UN.  He, obviously, in the televised segment said the UN doesn’t solve any problems anymore, and I want to get your response to that.  I also heard that in the qui… in the… in the… in the meeting not televised for the Security Council, he had some comments about Ban Ki‑moon and the capital master plan.  Are you aware of that?  And do you have any comment on that?

Spokesman:  Well, we weren’t in the meeting so…

Correspondent:  So.  Will you confirm that the offer was made to renovate the building for $500 million, when, in fact, it cost more than $2 billion? [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I mean, I think you can all go look on YouTube and C‑SPAN and see the testimonies that were given to the… I think it was the House or a Senate panel at the time where then‑developer Donald Trump spoke, where Chris Burnham spoke.  So I think that’s all history, and it’s on the record.  It’s not something that I need to comment on.

Question:  Okay.  To move faster, I wanted to ask you, on letters, I’d asked about the meeting with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), while he was there, the issues of retaliation.  There’s now a letter from all… or three of the UN staff unions that were directed to Secretary‑General and… Guterres.  It’s dated the 24th.  It’s now the 27th.  Has he received that letter?  And what does he think of the issue of the entire… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I have not… I’m not aware that he’s received the letter.  I’m going to take a break from you.  I’m going to go to Mr. Abbadi, and then I’ll come back.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  When would the Secretary‑General present his proposal for the general reforms of the Secretariat, and in what form would that be presented?

Spokesman:  There will be some outline on the development system probably in June, and, on the rest, I will keep you posted.  Erol?

Question:  Question with question mark at the end…

Spokesman:  That’s my favourite question.

Question:  …to follow‑up on my colleague before, in what kind and since the Secretary‑General will take in consideration the letter from the Government of Yemen on the particular issue?

Spokesman:  I’m happy for your attempt to follow up, but I think I’ve run out of words to express our position on Mr. McGoldrick and his work in Yemen.  We’ll… that being said, I’m happy to take a question from you, sir.

Question:  Thank you, sir.  My question, you promised me yesterday to try and bring me some information about the letter from the Coalition on 10 March about… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  On the VIM (Verification and Inspection Mechanism).  Indeed.

Question:  About the VIM and observers in Al Hodeidah, unless you have full confidence in the present administration of Al Hodeidah.

Spokesman:  I owe you those… I owe you that information.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask you, in Cameroon, again, the… the former UN legal adviser in Afghanistan and MONUC and also a former employee of the Special Court in Sierra Leone, Felix Agbor Balla, is facing death penalty by military trial.  And I wanted to know… there are also many of the other people that were… were… have faced trial today, and I wanted to know, is there any follow‑up by the UN system on the issue?

Spokesman:  I will take… I didn’t see those reports.

Question:  There’s also a TV station, Afrique Media, that’s being taken off the cable networks there for having had two statements in English, one that the Government is corrupt, the other one that France controls many countries in Africa.   [inaudible]  Is that a… does the UN think that that’s a reason…

Spokesman:  I will… I don’t… I can’t comment on something I don’t know about.

Question:  One more media question.

Spokesman:  Yes, go ahead.  One more, then we’ll go to Evelyn.  Go ahead.  That will be it.

Question:  Okay.  I wanted to ask, a Moroccan TV presenter, a Soumia Derhouri, has been suspended for saying on air the words “Western Sahara” rather than “Moroccan Sahara.”  And since this is a topic possibly of a meeting this afternoon, I wanted to know, since it’s kind of a timely question, should a media member be suspended for referring to a UN… [Cross talk]

Spokesman:  I don’t know…  Matthew, I am not going to comment on issues where I don’t have the details of.  But I will say, as a matter of principle, we stand for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Evelyn and then…

Question:  Just a housekeeping question.  Will Mr. Mulet be… have an office in this building?

Spokesman:  I’m sure he will, and he’ll be delighted to come back and have an office here.  The representative of CNN.

Question:  Thank you, the representative of the UN.  And, in that light, I… following up, since you are the available face of the UN, we don’t see the Secretary‑General that often, and you weren’t at the lunch at the White House, but it was played… his comments, the President of the United States’ comments, on television worldwide.  He said the UN is an underperformer but has tremendous potential.  What is the UN response to that?

Spokesman:  You know, I think it’s exactly the question you asked António Guterres on his first day at work as he walked into the building after paying his respects to Dag Hammarskjöld memorial.  I think he would zero in on the word “potential,” which is something the Secretary‑General agrees on.  He is putting forward and will be putting forward a number of reforms to ensure better performance by the UN system as a whole.  And, as you may have seen, over the last 10 days or so, he has sent out letters to staff or calls to staff on more prudent use of resources.

Correspondent:  I applaud your memory, but I was asking him on that January day about his… Trump’s criticism of the UN as a talking place… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  But I think that same tweet also had the word “potential” in it.  Go ahead.  Erol?

Question:  Just one more, I promise, the last one.  Does the Secretary‑General plan to address the public on 3 May, the World Press Freedom Day?

Spokesman:  That schedule is still being worked out.

For information media. Not an official record.