New York

19 February 2004

Secretary-General with his Special Advisor, Lakhdar Brahimi, after meeting with Friends of Iraq

SG: We have had a very good meeting on Iraq. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi joined me in briefing the Group of Friends on his mission to Iraq and we have shared with them where we stand, what we hope to do next, and explained to them the state of play. We have also been able to bring the Friends group together for the first time today, so it was important in the sense that the Friends –there were forty six delegations in the room - were able to hear directly from me and Lakhdar Brahimi on the progress of his mission. They all expressed their appreciation for the work done by Lakhdar Brahimi and the team. We hope that as we move forward we will be able to work with the Iraqis and the Coalition to find a mechanism for establishing a caretaker or an interim government until such time that elections are organized. But we shared with them our sense of the emerging consensus or understanding that elections cannot be held before the end of June, that the June 30th date for handover of sovereignty must be respected, and that we need to find a mechanism to create a caretaker government and then help prepare the elections later, some time later in the future.

Lakhdar, you may want to say a word.

Mr. Brahimi: I don't think I want to add much to what the Secretary-General has said. I think we welcome very, very much that there is this Group of Friends who are going to be closely associated with our work and supporting the reengagement of the United Nations in Iraq. As the Secretary-General has said, he will be sending his first recommendation - this is not a one-off activity - on the basis of the facts that we have assembled, the Secretary-General will be sending the first recommendation to the parties in Iraq and the United Nations will be resuming its work to help the political process, first of all up to the 30th of June and then after the 30th of June when sovereignty will be restored to Iraq.

SG: I have a meeting, so I will leave Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi.

Q: [to Mr. Brahimi, inaudible in Arabic]

Mr. Brahimi: [Answer, in Arabic] When elections take place, all Iraqis from the South, the North and in the middle, all Iraqis must participate.