New York

10 August 2007

Secretary-General's press encounter following adoption of Security Council Resolution 1770 on extension of mandate of UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI)

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, right now you plan to send 30 more people to UNAMI. When do you expect to see that expanded?

SG: I have not yet decided. I have to work it out. As a matter of policy, I am going to increase our presence, but as I have said on many occasions, our activities have been dictated by the situation on the ground –the safety and security of our staff is of paramount concern and interest, as you may understand. As the Security Council has adopted the Resolution [1770] asking and authorizing to increase the presence and role of the United Nations, I will continue to discuss very closely with the Member States, with the Secretariat's senior advisors. At this time, I have not yet finally decided who and how many will have to be dispatched to Iraq. First of all, I need to get support from the General Assembly for safe working conditions of our staff. I am going to ask for the increased budget support for strengthening the safe housing accommodation in Iraq. That is one area on which I am going to work. And I am also working on how to increase our presence in Iraq.

Q: Do you approve Mr. Staffan de Mistura to be the chief in Iraq?

SG: I have not yet made a final decision. He is one of the candidates. He is a very distinguished person. I have known him, and many people have recommended him, but there are still two or three candidates who are under consideration. I have not yet made any decision.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, one of the real questions is, 'Is the United Nations going to play an active role in trying to promote talks among Iraq's rival parties, both domestically and among the regional players?' Is the UN going to be a facilitator, a mediator?

SG: Yes. My answer is yes. Promoting and encouraging political facilitation and dialogue among different factions and ethnic religious groups –this will be one of the important areas where the United Nations will be engaged. In fact, the United Nations has been engaged in helping such political facilitation, social and economic development, humanitarian assistance, in the past, and recently as you may remember very well, I have launched the International Compact [with Iraq] to help the Iraqi people and Government to overcome these socio/economic problems. There was an expanded Foreign Ministers meeting of the regional countries; the United Nations will continuously encourage and promote such a meeting. During the General Assembly session in September, I hope we will have another opportunity for a meeting among ministers in the region. These are areas where the United Nations will increase our role.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what about the concerns of the staffers of the United Nations, saying that they don't want to go to Iraq, and they even want you to pull the ones that are there, because of lack of security?

SG: I know that the staff Union, and members of the staff, are concerned about their own security. It is true. Safety and security of our staff are of paramount concern and interest for us. As we are observing the fourth anniversary of Mr. [Sergio Vieira] de Mello's and many UN staff who were tragically killed four years ago, we have to think about that. At the same time, the United Nations must continue to work to help all the people around the world, wherever they may undergo such difficulty. We cannot shy away because of that. There must be somebody who should work for those people to help them overcome social and economic and political difficulties. This is one of the important responsibilities and role of the United Nations. I will take into consideration the concerns for the staff for our own security and safety. I will take into full consideration and take necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of our staff.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how will the UN's role differ internally in promoting reconciliation, as compared to what it did up until now?

SG: The United Nations will continue to meet with leaders of various groups; will continue to discuss and consult with leaders in the region and around the world. At the same time, I will hope, and urge, Iraqi government leaders to do their own part in promoting and engaging in inclusive political dialogue, whatever and whomever it may be.

Thank you very much. Thank you.