Tehran, Iran

31 August 2012

Secretary-General's press conference at Mehrabad Airport prior to his departure from Tehran

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As my visit draws to a close, I want to thank the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for their warmth and hospitality.
I came to Tehran to take part in the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which provided world leaders an opportunity to come together and address pressing global issues.  It also gave me a chance to raise my own views. 
I also came to Iran to engage in a dialogue and frank exchange with the Iranian leadership.
Over the past three days, I met with the Supreme Leader, the President, the Foreign Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. 
Yesterday, I also had the privilege of addressing students and scholars at the Institute of International Relations.
In addition, I had a number of productive bilateral meetings with leaders attending the NAM Summit, including today with Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqui and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem of Syria.
I reiterated my demand for all sides to cease all forms of violence, with the primary responsibility resting on the Government to halt its use of heavy weaponry. 
I also expressed my deep concerns about the humanitarian situation.  More than 2.5 million people are now in grave need of assistance and protection inside the country.  We need to expand the number of humanitarian organizations with which the international community can work. 
I also urged strong support for the critical mission of Joint UN and Arab League Special Representative Lakdhar Brahimi.
I also had a very good meeting today with President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine.  I share the President’s frustrations with the current standstill in the Middle East peace process and agreed with him on finding a way forward.  All members of the Quartet regard President Abbas as a real partner for peace and stand ready to fully support his efforts.
And, of course, the world is looking to Tehran to ease tensions and find a negotiated, diplomatic settlement on the nuclear issue.
I have been clear in all my discussions, public and private. 

I have urged the Government of Iran to take concrete steps to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. 

A report circulated today by the International Atomic Energy Agency finds that Iran has yet to reach agreement on a plan to resolve all outstanding issues.

I have also spoken out on the protection of basic freedoms and human rights -- which is even more crucial in the run-up to next year’s presidential election.  I encouraged authorities to cooperate more closely with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Iran.

I have condemned threats by any Member State to destroy or delegitimize another. 

And I have reminded leaders here – and indeed throughout the region – to lower the volume and stop the provocation that can lead this area down a slippery slope of conflict. 

It is time for more reason and responsibility.  I urge all concerned to resolve differences through peaceful means.

As I have repeatedly said during my visit, assuming the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement provides Iran with the opportunity to demonstrate that it can play a moderate and constructive role internationally.

Iran has enriched and nourished human civilization for centuries.  As a founding member of the United Nations, Iran has also greatly contributed to our own work through creative initiatives such as the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free-zone and the Dialogue of Civilizations. 

Iran has also played a positive role in assisting the people of Afghanistan during a very turbulent time.  This includes hosting and protecting millions Afghan refugees. 

There is important work to build upon and many challenges to meet.

I conclude this visit strengthened in my conviction in dialogue and diplomacy.

Through dialogue and diplomacy, I expect Iran to contribute meaningfully to our global agenda and to regional and international peace and security. 

That is why I came to Tehran.  I leave here mindful of the challenges, but also satisfied that we have conveyed the messages that simply must be aired at this critical time.

Thank you - merci. 

Q:   Thank you very much and I wish you have had a good time in my country. Actually, my question is:  The Supreme Leader of Iran has proposed a proposal - a policy for Palestine before the election in November. How do you see this suggestion? Thank you so much.

SG:  The position of the United Nations is consistent and clear – the two-State vision is bedrock for the Middle East Peace Process; we support the two-State vision where the people of Israel and Palestine can live side-by-side in peace and security.  I have reassured and reaffirmed this position in my meeting with President Abbas today. Thank you.

Q:  Your Excellency, welcome to Iran, once again. I want to know if your trip was altogether a constructive one and what do you think about Iran’s role as the leader of NAM in the next few years. How do you think Iran will perform that role?

SG:  First of all, I would like to thank Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for inviting me to this very important Summit Meeting of Non-Aligned Movement. This is a very important opportunity for Iran – not only [to] raise their political profile in the international community, but also [to] demonstrate their leadership to exercise a moderate and constructive role in regional and international issues.  As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, my visit to Iran and participation in this Summit Meeting has been very useful and very constructive. I have had very meaningful and useful discussions with all Iranian leaders and a number of world leaders. Thank you.

Q:  My question is regarding Syria – is Mr. [Lakhdar] Brahimi going to follow the six-point proposal of Mr Kofi Annan or not, and what are the programmes of the UN to put an end to the conflict and to stopping sending arms for intervening inside the soil of Syria?

SG:  With the appointment of Mr Lakhdar Brahimi as a joint special representative of the UN and League of Arab States, it is important that all international community members are fully united in supporting his role.  I have asked the Iranian leadership to support his role and I am encouraged to have such a strong assurance from the Iranian leadership. We have Kofi Annan’s six-point plan and the Joint Communiqué of the Action Group which was adopted in Geneva on June 30th. I have had a series of strategic meetings with Lakhdar Brahimi before I came here. All these proposals and Communiqué recommendations will be used as important tools in his diplomatic efforts to bring peace and end violence in Syria. What is important at this time: all parties must stop violence, all those actors who may be providing arms to both sides – Government and opposition forces – must stop.  Further militarization of the situation will only prolong this tragic situation and will place civilian people into further misery. It is important that the Syrian leadership should take responsibility as a Government to ensure that all the civilian population’s safety be protected. I am encouraged that my talks with the Iranian officials and leadership here have been very much reassuring in working for a peace and security in Syria. Merci – thank you.