New York

11 March 2004

Secretary-General's press encounter following lunch with the Security Council (unofficial transcript)

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, could we ask you one question about this “black box” that's been discovered across the street. The French, according to Le Monde, have accused the United Nations of obstruction. Is this a case of obstruction, or is it a case of a foul up, or something …

SG: I must say, I was as surprised as you were to find out that a “black box” existed, much less in this building. From what I have picked up, it sounds like a real foul up, a first class foul up. I don't think there has been any attempt to cover up, and our legal office has been cooperating, from what I have gathered, very effectively with the Judge. They didn't seem to know about the existence of the “black box”. I was incredulous when I was told it existed, because it was first raised with me when I was in Canada, following the Le Monde article, and I said I don't see why we would not cooperate with an investigation. It is our policy to cooperate and to assist in all criminal investigations, and I will look into it when I get back. So I called from Canada and said, check it out, and here we are.

Q: And you or Mr. [Iqbal] Riza, who just left the scene [inaudible], and you were director of peace-keeping then –had you any information about what happened to the “black box” from that plane crash?

SG: Absolutely not, absolutely none of it. In fact, as I said, I was as surprised as anybody to know that there was a “black box” here.

Q: Are you struck by Rwanda again? It's not a cable, but it's the genocide, the UN connection, it just seems to be a trail that never ends, it seems, as the anniversary approaches.

SG: Well, as I said, I am as surprised as everybody that we have this.

Q: Are you going to form another panel to investigate this one?

SG: I will let you chair it. [laughter]