Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon all.
Today is the first day of the Belgian presidency of the Security Council. The Secretary-General briefed the Security Council a short while ago, expressing concern at the volatile and tense situation in the Middle East as evidenced by the intra-Palestinian violence in Gaza and violence between the Israelis and Palestinians.
In northern Lebanon, the Secretary-General noted that heavy fighting resumed this morning. He expressed his concern about the threat posed to Lebanese sovereignty and stability as a result of these clashes. He said he had spoken to several regional leaders to help alleviate the situation. He then briefed on the Quartet’s meeting, the fourth he attended since taking office. You have seen the Quartet’s communiqué.
The Secretary-General said the Quartet also addressed the bilateral and regional tracks. The Quartet, he said, expressed support for the ongoing bilateral meetings between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert. In order to continue the momentum, the Quartet decided to meet on 26 and 27 June in the region, and take the important steps of meeting with Israelis and Palestinians and then to hold a separate meeting with members of the Arab League to continue to follow up on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Secretary-General is now engaging in a question-and-answer session.
On Monday morning, Belgian Ambassador Johan Verbeke will chair the Council’s closed-door consultation on the programme of work for the month of June. And we expect him to come to this room soon after, at about 12:30, to brief you on that programme.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has confirmed that the fighting has resumed between the Lebanese Army and Islamist fighters entrenched in the UN-run Nahr al-Bared camp for Palestinian refugees, near Tripoli in northern Lebanon. UNRWA says that the shelling today has been heavier than on previous days, and some 5,000 refugees are believed to still be in the camp.
Because of the heavy fighting, UNRWA has been unable to obtain first-hand information on developments inside the camp and to assess conditions for civilians. As soon as information is available, we will update you on what UNRWA and other agencies are doing to assist the beleaguered civilians in the camp.