HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
NO U.N. PLAN ON ISRAEL-SYRIA PEACE, ANNAN SAYS
- Asked in Ottawa about reports of a UN plan to broker peace between Israel and Syria, the Secretary-General said “there is no such plan at the moment,” although there have been discussions and working papers on what to do on the Syrian track “when the time comes.”
- Asked about whether the United Nations was previewing a Syria-Israel peace plan, the Spokesman said that it was not. Rather, what the media had said was a plan was nothing more than some ideas, put to paper by UN Special Coordinator Terje Roed Larsen, last October.
- Those ideas, he said, didn’t indicate that a fresh initiative is imminent, but it was a topic that the United Nations was looking at on a planning basis. Eckhard added that he was unaware whether Larsen had discussed it recently.
- The Spokesman underscored that the political conditions would have to be right for such an initiative, which was not the case at present.
U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY MEETS WITH U.S. SECURITY ADVISER, QUARTET
- The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Roed Larsen, is in Washington, D.C., today, where he met with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. They discussed the situation in the Middle East, including issues related to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s proposals concerning an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
- They discussed ways in which the international community could assist the parties in this regard. They also discussed the other tracks of the peace process, including the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks.
- This afternoon, Larsen will be representing the United Nations at a working-level meeting of the Quartet, which also includes the United States, Russia and the European Union. The meeting is intended to push forward the Middle East peace process and will be used to discuss recent developments, including the withdrawal proposals on Gaza.
- On the Secretary-General’s instructions, Larsen will travel Thursday to London to have discussions on these issues with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
U.N. ENVOY DEPLORES ISRAELI FLIGHTS OVER LEBANON
- The Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, strongly deplored several Israeli overflights today in Lebanon’s airspace. Those flights were followed by anti-aircraft fire from the Lebanese side, across the Blue Line.
- De Mistura called again on the Israeli authorities to stop these air violations, and on Hezbollah to cease its ensuing, and dangerous, anti-aircraft fire.
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