Spokesperson's Noon Briefing


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


DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

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**Questions and Answers

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Question:  Did Ehud Barak tell the Secretary-General that Israel would pay in the neighbourhood of $10.5 million in compensation for the damage to UN property and the life of a truck driver during the Gaza War last year?

Spokesperson:  What I can tell you is this:  in July last year, the United Nations submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel a claim for reimbursement for the losses that the United Nations had sustained in a number of incidents that occurred during the Gaza conflict, which was as you know from 27 December 2008 to 19 January 2009.  And since that time, discussions have been taking place between the United Nations and Israel.  And those discussions have taken place in a very positive atmosphere, and they are now at a very advanced stage.  Agreement has been reached in principle on the terms of an arrangement under which Israel would make a payment to the United Nations.

The United Nations is now waiting for a green light from the Government of Israel.  And we anticipate receiving that green light imminently.  When that green light is given, an agreement will be formalized between the United Nations and Israel and a payment will be made.

Obviously, since the agreement is not yet finalized, it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the details.  These will be disclosed when the agreement has been concluded and the payment has been made.  I would, however, point out now that there are certain inaccuracies in press reports on this matter.

Question:  [inaudible]

Spokesperson:  I can’t go into the details of what those inaccuracies are, but I simply want to point out particularly two things.  One, that this is at an advanced stage, and that we’re waiting for a green light from the Government of Israel.

Question:  Did they discuss this?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General, as I told you before, did speak to Defense Minister Barak, and there was discussion of the arrangement I have just been talking about.  Discussion of it, but I can’t clearly go into the details of what the discussion entailed.  Okay.

Question:  Is there a conversation just for damages to UN facilities or also for loss of human life?

Spokesperson:  This is for losses that the United Nations sustained in these incidents.

Question:  Nothing to do with UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) employees?

Spokesperson:  What I have here is “losses that the United Nations sustained”.  So, I would need to clarify precisely what that means.  If I’ve understood it correctly from what’s been said previously about seeking reimbursement and seeking a payment, this was related to the premises and to staff.  That is what I understand has been said previously, I need to check again whether this refers to where we are now with the arrangement that is being finalized.

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Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President

Thank you very much.  Good Afternoon.  I have two items for you today.  The first one regards the meeting with the President of the Security Council for the month of January 2010.  This morning, President Treki met with met with his Excellency Mr. Zhang Yesui, Permanent Representative of China, who is the President of the Security Council for the current month.

The President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council exchanged views on a number of important issues on the agenda of the two bodies.  They discussed, in particular, the peace and security situation in Africa, the Middle East, and other regions, and the envisaged extension of several peacekeeping mandates during the current month.  …

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For information media • not an official record