Meeting with US President Obama – SecGen press conference at UNHQ – Transcript (excerpts)



Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  It is a great pleasure to see you today. I think we have much to discuss.


Finally, President Obama and I agreed on the need for an urgent push on the Middle East.  In Sharm el-Sheikh, donors at the meeting on Gaza reconstruction made large pledges, well beyond what was anticipated.  The world has sent a clear message of solidarity to the Palestinian people.  We must turn this support not only into recovery for the people of Gaza, but also into a revitalized peace process in the Middle East and between the Palestinians.


Question: Secretary-General, I’d like to take you back to the issue of how you discussed with President Obama the issue of the Middle East peace process in both the Syrian track and the Palestinian track.  I understand that you and your aides have been behind the scenes playing a role, or saying at least that you have been playing a role, as far as pushing forward for the Syrian track, and that you are part of the chorus that believes that this is the way to deal with Hamas and Hizbullah.  If so, did you discuss this with President Obama in this context?  And given that President Obama has said about Taliban that he finds he can deal with moderates in the Taliban, do you discuss that sort of idea, how might that apply to Hamas?  How you can step down from the conditions of the Quartet regarding Hamas?

Secretary-General:  I can not disclose all what I had discussed with President Obama, as you may understand.  What I said to President Obama, I really commended his immediate engagement and leadership, demonstrated by appointing Special Envoy [former] Senator George Mitchell, and also dispatching the Secretary of State to the region.  That was very much commendable, and the expression of it demonstrated leadership, to be engaged in Middle East peace process.  And I also emphasized the necessity of reactivating the Middle East peace process as soon as possible, including the unity of the Palestinian people.  On all these issues, I think, United States and the United Nations share the same visions and same goals.  As members of the Quartet, we also agreed to have an active Quartet. Therefore, I am very much encouraged that the United States and United Nations will more actively engage and facilitate this peace process in close coordination with the Arab partners.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, can you tell us if you, in fact, you as the United Nations, represented by you, and others are pushing to put priority to the Syrian track, and if that’s how you discussed it with the President?  And if by any chance you have discussed also, or you have in mind, stepping down from the conditions related to Hamas, so that it can be part of… since it is going to be part of a Government, if there is reconciliation that you are pushing for among Palestinians?  Do please kindly try to address these questions.

Secretary-General: You may remember that I have myself been engaging with the Syrian Government, President [Bashar] al-Assad, many times.  I have visited twice.  And in that regard, I noted with a sense of encouragement that the United States has taken some move to engage Syria and to have a dialogue for an improved relationship so that we can expect Syria can play a constructive role in the region.  After all, I regard Syria as also a very important country who can, who should, play a constructive role for the peace and stability in the region.  This is, I think, the right move.

Question: And Hamas?

Secretary-General: That, we will have to see how the situation develops.


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For information media • not an official record 


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