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Posted: May 1 2007, 02:53 AM
If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES 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 Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Frehiwot Bekele, Special Assistant to the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The Security Council has decided to extend the mandates of two peacekeeping missions -– for Sudan and Western Sahara -– which had been otherwise set to expire by the end of the day. Both missions will now be extended by six months, until the end of October.
The Council has also adopted a presidential statement on Somalia, which, among other things, demands that the relevant authorities there do all they can to facilitate the free movement of aid and humanitarian workers throughout Somalia.
Today is the last day of the United Kingdom presidency of the Security Council. The United States will assume the Council’s rotating presidency for the month of May.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Liberia, Alan Doss, welcomed the Council’s decision last Friday to lift the sanctions on the export of rough diamonds from Liberia. We have that statement upstairs.
The Secretary-General this morning addressed a symposium here at Headquarters on enhancing the implementation of Security Council sanctions.
He said that, to strengthen compliance and increase effectiveness, sanctions must be understood to show the international community’s strong and unified political will. Moreover, sanctions should include carrots along with sticks -- not only threats, but inducements to elicit compliance. We have the full text of his remarks in my office.
On Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, attended a meeting hosted by Libya on the situation in Darfur over the weekend, which was attended by Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, the African Union (AU), the European Union and the League of Arab States.
The meeting reconfirmed support for the Addis Ababa conclusions of 16 November 2006, subsequently endorsed by the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council.
The participants also underlined the urgency of finding a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Darfur crisis.
They also expressed grave concern over continued violence and insecurity in Darfur and urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities and act upon their commitment to uphold a ceasefire without delay.
The full text of the so-called “Tripoli Consensus on the Political Process for Darfur” is available upstairs.
Meanwhile, World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran says WFP has made dramatic progress in reducing malnutrition in Ethiopia, Sudan and Chad, but the achievements risk being diminished by constantly shifting security conditions.
On Kosovo, the Security Council has wrapped up its mission to the Balkans. After visiting Brussels and Belgrade, the mission arrived in Kosovo, where its head, Belgian Ambassador Johan Verbeke, spoke to the press.
In that encounter, Verbeke said that the Security Council delegation saw in Kosovo a willingness to build a strong multi-ethnic society. Asked about divisions in the Council over Kosovo, he said there was enough potential for mutual confidence and cooperation to move towards the international community’s collective aim for Kosovo -– namely, a multi-ethnic society where everybody is at ease. Verbeke also said that there were no firm deadlines in the status process. We have the full transcript of that encounter in my office.
Following its visit to Kosovo, the team went to Vienna, where it met with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo status process, Martti Ahtisaari.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be travelling to Egypt this week where he and the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, will co-chair the launch of the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) on 3 May 2007 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
The International Compact is an Iraqi initiative co-sponsored by the United Nations. It seeks to consolidate peace in the conflict-torn country and pursue political, economic and social development over the next five years.
The Secretary-General attaches great importance to the ICI and considers this process to be one of the most critical means of helping Iraq to build a “secure, unified, federal and democratic nation, founded on the principles of freedom and equality, capable of providing peace and prosperity for its entire people”.
The Secretary-General will also attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of the expanded Iraq neighbours, representatives of the permanent members of the Security Council and members of the G-8 countries.
Meanwhile, Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, said today that the process of selecting new Iraqi electoral commissioners complied with the relevant legal process and allowed Iraqis from all over the country and the diaspora to submit applications. We have his statement upstairs.
On Somalia, Eric Laroche, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, has written an open letter to Somali leaders, military commanders, elders and community representatives, in which he expressed grave concern at reports of abuse, harassment, theft and rape perpetrated on civilians displaced by the latest round of violence in Mogadishu.
Laroche deplored the fact that, while the country is in the middle of a major human tragedy, military activity continues to hamper the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in critical need. He appealed to the Somali leaders to ensure the safe passage of relief goods and workers through the regions under their control, and urged them, and the Ethiopian forces backing the Government, to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law. Copies of the letter are available upstairs.
From Haiti, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Haiti, Edmond Mullet, has expressed his satisfaction at the successful conduct of the rerun of the local, municipal and legislative elections held this weekend in Haiti.
The UN Mission in that country says that more than 300,000 voters in 25 communities cast their ballots in 69 voting centres and 770 polling stations to choose their representatives.
The elections were organized with logistical and security support provided by the UN Mission to the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council and the National Police. We have a press release from the mission upstairs.
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) said in a statement today that, while it recognizes that the first round of elections was not perfect, the consensus assessment was that they were free and fair, reflecting the will of the voters.
In response to the sixth report of the Electoral Certification Team, UNMIT also said this first national election conducted by Timorese authorities should be seen as a significant achievement.
The UN Mission adds it will continue to encourage calm and respect for the outcome of the elections, as announced by the national electoral authorities.
**Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The Secretary-General, in a message to the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, said the NPT review process offers an appropriate forum for creative responses to development, and expressed encouragement that the meeting will help in establishing regional nuclear-weapon-free zones.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal reports that in many parts of the country, Maoist local cadres are not complying with the Party’s formal commitments to allow displaced persons to return to their homes in safety.
In a statement released today, the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the Maoists to support the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and to ensure that they allow unconditional, dignified and safe return of all persons recognized as IDPs. The Mission also urges that local cadres return all land and property confiscated from IDPs.
On Cambodia, the international judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in a statement we have upstairs, expressed their pleasure at the recent decision of the Cambodian Bar Council to institute a flat registration fee of $500 US dollars for all international lawyers appearing before the court.
The international judges are confident that this fee will not hinder international lawyers, particularly those working in a pro bono capacity, from registering with the Cambodian Bar and taking part in the historic work of the Extraordinary Chambers.
With this decision, the international judges believe that a successful plenary can now be called to adopt the internal rules of the Extraordinary Chambers.
The Secretariat of the UN Forum on Forests announced that, after 15 years of negotiations on a global approach to protect the world’s forests, representatives of Member States adopted a landmark agreement just after dawn on Saturday.
The agreement, copies of which will become public in the course of today, is described as a milestone in international forest policy and cooperation for sustainable forest management. And we will alert you to the publication of the document as soon as it is available.
**Sustainable Development - Climate Change
The Commission on Sustainable Development began its current session this morning at Headquarters.
For the next two weeks, more than 2,000 representatives and experts will discuss long-term energy solutions that can fuel development while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, the third working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meeting all this week in Bangkok.
On Friday, it is expected to issue its report on mitigating climate change through preventing and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
**Exhibit on Rwanda Genocide
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the travelling exhibit entitled, “Lessons from the Rwanda genocide” at 6 p.m. this afternoon in the South Gallery of the Visitors’ Lobby here at Headquarters.
The exhibit, which will first be shown at UN Headquarters over a period of three weeks, highlights the role of States in preventing genocide, educates viewers on the warning signs and examines the genocide in Rwanda. It also emphasizes the plight of victims and the needs of survivors of sexual violence.
At 11:15 a.m. tomorrow, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will brief you on her recent trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.
The guest at the noon briefing tomorrow will be UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who will brief you on the results of the International Conference on Displacement of Iraqis and his recent mission to Sudan.
This is all I have for you. Thank you.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Is this Rwanda genocide exhibition going to be only a one-time event or is it going to be some kind of regular collaboration for such kind of occurrences in history, if I can say?
Spokesperson: This exhibit, as I said, will last three weeks, but there will be other events around this. As you know, it was a decision by the General Assembly to commemorate these events on a regular basis. So there will be more events of that kind.
Question: And if I can only ask one technical question. It seems to be a conflict of schedule again. I have a paper saying that the Bosnian Foreign Minister is coming and that he is a participant of the event organized by the World Jewish Committee, saying that Mr. Ban Ki-moon is participating also, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. I am not sure whether this is tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Is that possible?
Spokesperson: I will check for you on the schedule.
Question: One follow-up on the Rwanda exhibit. Now that its’ opening today, is it possible to say what the process was? We know that it was postponed, and then reconsideration of the language was given. Was the reconsideration totally in-house of the UN? Were any Member States consulted? If you can say something about this for stories about the exhibit, what the process between postponement and opening was about?
Spokesperson: As you know, when the exhibit was assembled, DPI had noticed problems with some of the references in the text and it realized that it has not been sufficiently reviewed by the relevant experts in the Secretariat. So the process was that it be reviewed by a group of experts in the Secretariat, legal experts as well as political ones. No Member State was involved in the review. The exhibit is part of DPI’s -– as you know –- one of their outreach programmes. The review process included contributions from, as I said, the Legal Office, the Department of Political Affairs, the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for the Prevention of Genocide, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Department of Public Information. And they also consulted DPI’s partner in this exhibit, which is the AEGIS, as you now.
Question: Does the reopening of the exhibit make any reference to Turkey and Armenia, or not?
Spokesperson : It does make a reference to the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I and other events in history. I’m quoting.
Question: A couple of questions about the audit of the North Korean office by the UNDP. First of all, it’s been now a little longer after the 90 days expiration. Is there any idea, when will the audit be completed?
Spokesperson: I don’t have that answer for you. I don’t have an answer on the date for you.
Question: Have the auditors been admitted into North Korea? Do they have access to the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]? Have they asked for a visa?
Spokesperson: Ok, we’ll have an update on you for that. As you know, you were fully briefed on that by David Morrison, on some aspects of it. But on the time, I will get back to you on this.
Question: But the auditors are not meant to be UNDP guys, they’re meant to be Secretariat.
Spokesperson: No, they are not. But he did say that they were through consulting all the elements that they had here at Headquarters. And that they were heading toward… I will find out for you if there was no problem. I will get that.
Question: Is there any visa issue? Have the North Koreans been hospitable?
Spokesperson: We’ll check on that for you.
Question: You said there was a mass killing of the Armenians and genocide too?
Spokesperson: Well, the text that they used is “mass killings”, the wording for the exhibit –- mass killings of Armenians.
Question: Today, only technical questions for me. It became almost tradition that the new President of the Security Council gives us a briefing. It seems to me that we are not having that tomorrow from Mr. Khalilzad.
Spokesperson: Well, we asked and they told us that there would not be one. But you can ask all the questions that you want to him at the stakeout.
Any other questions? Ok, please. Freh is going to brief you on the General Assembly.
Briefing by Spokesperson for the General Assembly
Good afternoon. I have a few items.
**Security Council Reform
On Security Council reform, the Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa will chair a meeting this Thursday afternoon -- an informal meeting of the General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform. This will be the first opportunity for Member States to express their views on the facilitators’ report, which was circulated earlier in the month, on 20 April. In the lead-up to the meeting, the President is having consultations with all key players, including representatives of the G-4, Uniting for Consensus, the P-5 and the African Group.
Another item, as we announced in an e-mail circular on Friday, the Assembly President will convene next week, on Thursday and Friday, 10 and 11 May, an informal thematic debate of the Assembly, which will focus on “Civilizations and the Challenge for Peace: Obstacles and Opportunities”.
The main objective of the debate is to explore the reasons behind the growing level of mistrust between people of different religions and cultures; and to examine how and why cultural and religious differences increasingly fuel and are used to justify conflicts. A number of prominent commentators, academics and political figures will be participating over the two days in four separate panel discussions on the following themes: Respect for Cultural Diversity as a Prerequisite for Dialogue; Religion in Contemporary Society; the Responsibility of the Media; and Civilizations and the Challenge for Global Peace and Security.
Panellists and moderators will include: Turkey’s Minister of State and Religious Affairs, H.E. Dr. Mehmet Aydin; the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Amre Moussa; Mr. Riz Khan, news reporter/interviewer of Al Jazeera –- English; Ms. Karen Armstrong, author on religion and television broadcaster. And moderators include the former UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr. Shashi Tharoor; and Robert Thurman of the Department of Religious Studies at Columbia University.
Detailed lists of the panellists and the concept paper for the debate are available on the web site of the General Assembly.
Question: When is that again?
Spokesperson: Next week, Thursday and Friday, the 10th and 11th.
Question: What is the full title of this conference?
Spokesperson: Civilizations and the Challenge for Peace: Obstacles and Opportunities.
There will also be two side events. On Thursday evening there will be a concert by a Lebanese pianist and composer, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, in the General Assembly Hall. And on Friday the 11th there will be a lunch time round table discussion on the arts as a tool for bridging gaps between cultures.
One more item, this afternoon, the Secretary-General will brief an informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly on his recent trip to the Middle East and on his meeting with the UN system Chief Executives Board.
That’s all I have. Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: There was a town hall meeting by Under-Secretary-General Bárcena and the staff on Friday about mobility, at the end of which she said we have to go forward with mobility starting 1 May because the General Assembly has mandated it. So, I’m wondering, is that set in stone that it has to go forward? Is in fact 1 May going to be the date, or as Ms. Bárcena sort of indicated, might it be a little bit later?
GA Spokesperson: I’ll have to find out.
Question: And do you know if the mobility is starting 1 May?
SG Spokesperson: Yes, it’s starting 1 May. It’s a very small group, as Ms. Bárcena indicated.
Question: But she said something about publishing a rule first, that some rule has to be put out. That’s what she seemed to indicate.
SG Spokesperson: We will get the information for you on what will be put out.
Posted: May 2 2007, 10:29 AM
If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06
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.
**Guest at Noon
The guest today at the noon briefing is UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who will brief you on the results of the International Conference on Displacement of Iraqis and his recent mission to Sudan.
**Climate Change Envoys
As part of his efforts to address the major global challenges posed by climate change, the Secretary-General this morning announced the appointment of three Special Envoys on Climate Change.
They are Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Prime Minister of Norway and former Chair of the World Commission of Environment and Development; Han Seung-soo, the former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, who also served as President of the General Assembly five years ago; and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar, who currently is President of the Foundation for Democracy and Development, which he created.
The three envoys will meet with heads of Government and other key actors in climate change negotiations to solicit their views. The Secretary-General says he “looks forward to working with these three highly respected international figures on a matter which is of highest importance to the future of the planet.” We have copies of the announcement upstairs, as well as the bios of the three envoys.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Manuel Aranda da Silva strongly condemns the temporary abduction of six staff members of the [Office of the United Nations] High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the hijacking of the refugee agency’s vehicles by unknown armed men in West Darfur.
Six UNHCR staff members in a two-vehicle convoy, clearly marked with the UN refugee agency’s logo, were attacked yesterday morning while they were on their way for a routine visit to a refugee camp, located approximately 80 kilometres southwest of El Geneina.
The attackers drove away with the UNHCR staff members and dropped them off later. After several hours of search carried out by the UN with the assistance of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and the Government authorities, the staff members were located near Saraf Omra, which is located East of Geneina, near the border between West Darfur and North Darfur state, where they were brought by truck by the local population. None of the staff members was hurt.
** C ôte d’Ivoire
On Côte d’Ivoire, with the integration of former rebels into the National Army now well underway, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire has welcomed the willingness of the parties to fully implement the Ouagadougou Agreement.
Yesterday, in the western town of Bangolo, the UN Deputy Force Commander, General Mouhamadou Kandji, and Police Commissioner Cristian Gérardo Chaumont, attended the installation of two new mixed brigades in a bid to stress the UN’s commitment to support the gradual dismantling of the Zone of Confidence, one of the key provisions of the Ouagadougou Agreement. And yesterday’s event comes on the heels of the 16 April official launching by President Laurent Gbagbo of the abolition of the Zone of Confidence and last Friday’s inauguration of the Integrated Command Centre in the capital Yamoussoukro. There is more on this upstairs.
On Nepal, Ian Martin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Nepal, gave a press conference today in Kathmandu, saying that although the United Nations would have been delighted if it had proved possible to hold elections before this year’s monsoon, postponement should not be viewed as a disaster.
He expressed his hope that a new date will soon be decided upon by the Interim Government, in consultation with the Election Commission, and that the time available will then be used to address the several critical issues that pose risks to the peace process.
Martin said that the postponement of the Constituent Assembly election may prolong the period during which Maoist army personnel remain in cantonment sites. This makes it urgent, he added, to improve cantonment conditions, which have repeatedly proved to be unsatisfactory for current weather conditions, and certainly cannot withstand the fast-approaching monsoon.
On Afghanistan, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, bringing together the UN Mission in Afghanistan and the Afghan Government, met today to examine progress in implementation of the Afghanistan Compact. Overall, the Compact was found to be on track with momentum on both early and longer-term benchmarks.
The Board also highlighted further work that needs to be done to implement the Compact. And we have more details in a press release upstairs.
The United States today replaces the United Kingdom as the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of May. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is holding bilateral consultations with other Council members on the Council’s programme of work for this month.
The Council is expected to hold consultations tomorrow to approve the programme of work for May.
Today, we have an update on Member State contributions to the UN regular budget.
As of the end of April, a total of 73 countries have paid in full their assessments to the UN regular budget for 2007. We have more details upstairs.
**Press Conference Tomorrow
At 11 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a press conference by Robert Mahoney, Deputy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Joel Campagna, the Committee’s Senior Middle East Program Coordinator, who will brief you on a new report released to mark World Press Freedom Day, which is on Thursday, as you know, 3 May.
This is all I have for you. Thank you.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Just with regard to the climate change envoys, once again, why is it not possible to get this information before to help those of us that need to pitch stories before midday, unless you did and I missed it?
Spokesperson: I’m sorry, Mark. The information went on the “lid list” to all of you at 9 a.m. You should all have received it.
Question: But just to follow up, can we have any kind of briefing on what they’re going to do, these people, and from them?
Spokesperson: Yes, we’re hoping to have them come. We don’t know yet when because, as you know, they are in different capitals. But we are hoping that they will come and talk to you.
Question: Can you explain a little about what their job is going to be and what they’re going to do?
Spokesperson: Well, the job was described in what I said earlier, the fact that they’re going to be discussing the way forward on climate change issues.
Question: Are they going to travel around the world?
Spokesperson: As you know, there are several steps which are envisaged. There is going to be a conference in Bali on climate change. There is going to be, most probably, an informal high-level meeting during the General Assembly on climate change. This is being worked on by Member States and by the Secretary-General. And, of course, there is the objective of going even further, which we have not determined yet where it will go. So, they all have very important credentials as international figures, and we can certainly get more. You have their biographies, and we have all the information you need upstairs. But, of course, we can give you more.
Question: Michèle, I want to register an official complaint about what happened yesterday after the Security Council meeting, regarding United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara and the Western Sahara. The representative of the Frente Polisario went to the stakeout and, at some point, I was asking him questions. I wasn’t able to tape it. The tape was bad. So I rely on the professionalism of UNTV, who is always very professional, in recording this so that I can go downstairs and get a tape. There were a lot of people around and there was a lot of interference. Somebody turned off the image and then they eventually turned off the sound. And when I went to ask about this, I was told that somebody went up to the cameraman and said that somebody from the Department of Political Affairs went and complained, and said that the representative should not be at the stakeout. So first of all, what are the guidelines about this because I’ve never heard of this before? Number two, I was told that whatever was recorded, even if there was not a TV image, that it would be on the website. It was not on the website at 4 p.m., and this was done by, I think, 12:30 p.m. /1 p.m. So I don’t understand what the huge delay was. This is very suspect and I’m very upset. And this is an issue that comes up once every six months in the Security Council. This is something that is not before the Security Council every week. And I’m very upset about this. And I want to know what the reasoning is behind cutting the video feed.
Spokesperson: Well I have to say we’re sorry it happened. We talked to the Department of Public Information about this. They said that what happened is a mistake, and they’re sorry about it. We also talked to DPA. There was no order from them for anything to be cut off. Apparently, there was confusion about the identity of the speaker. When Mr. Ahmed Boukhari approached the mic, staff did not recognize him and were unable to identify him. The judgement was made that the TV feed should be cut short. And for this, we are sorry. There is no policy of that sort. Of course, Mr. Boukhari had the right to speak at the stakeout. And the majority of his press encounter is now on the website.
Question: But the question that I have for you is that, there were journalists -- myself and others -- who were asking questions. So who made the decision to cut off the feed while questions were being asked? It’s not that somebody was at the stakeout. There was nobody there except UNTV. There’s a difference between cutting something off and cutting something off for a reason. And he was answering my questions and others. And that is the part that upsets me.
Spokesperson: It was a mistake. They took whoever told them to stop it as being someone who was authorized.
Question: Who told them?
Spokesperson: We don’t know at this point. We have been trying to find out who said it. We can tell you that no one was authorized to do it. No one.
Question: If you can just update us on the situation concerning the meeting between Mr. Ban Ki-moon and Mr. Nicholas Michel on Lebanon, and what would be the next step, because the Secretary-General made a speech in front of the General Assembly yesterday. And he said, probably, that Mr. Michel did not make much success.
Spokesperson: Mr. Michel is going to be meeting with the Security Council, most probably, tomorrow. And he will definitely accept to come and brief you as soon as the Security Council consultations are over.
Question: What is the next step from Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s perspective? Is he going to send him to Lebanon again? He’s meeting today with the Siniora, I think, advisor. So what does he think? Where are we going with this?
Spokesperson: Well, the best person to answer those questions would be Mr. Michel. As you know, he’s the point man on this tribunal issue. And I’m sure he will be very willing to answer your questions.
Question: With reference to this appearance of Mr. Boukhari yesterday, I was present when he spoke to us at the stakeout on two, somewhat separated, occasions some minutes apart. On the second occasion, he identified himself orally as Mr. Bouhkhari. At all times, even on the first occasion, he had his ID card with his name clearly written on it and visible. I know because I knew what Frente Polisario was, but I did not know who he was personally. And I was able to identify him by that means. If this was really done on the idea that they did not know who he was, then God help them they should have asked.
Spokesperson: You’re quite right. And we’re really sorry about the incident. It should have never happened.
Question: Are we going to be getting a briefing by Ambassador Khalilzad on the plan of work for the month of May?
Spokesperson: No, we’re not.
Question: Have they given any reason?
Spokesperson: No. They just said he would rather answer your questions at the stakeout.
Question: I wanted to ask you about the Chief Executive Boards meeting in Geneva. I know it’s getting a little in the past, but we just heard from Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro that the issue of United Nations funds and programmes making their internal audits available to Member States did come up. I’ve heard actually that Ban Ki-moon himself said to the heads of funds and programmes that they should each recommend to their executive boards to make this change, as soon as possible. Is that accurate?
Spokesperson: That he has recommended that? Yes. That’s all I can say at this point. I was not at the meeting in Geneva. And the Deputy Secretary-General is the best person to inform you on that. You asked a question about that, right?
Any other questions…because Mr. Guterres is here? OK, I invite him to come to the podium.
Posted: May 4 2007, 01:32 AM
If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06
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 Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon. I’m going to start the briefing, but if Nicolas Michel, the United Nations Legal Counsel, walks in, I may have to turn the floor to him. He is our guest, but I promised him that he would be in and out quickly. So I will start, but I warn that I may have to abbreviate this a bit.
The Secretary-General is in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, today, where, tomorrow, he will launch, along with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the International Compact with Iraq.
The Secretary-General just met tête-à-tête with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They discussed Darfur, the Iraq Compact, the work of the Middle East Quartet, the meeting on the Arab Peace Initiative that will take place later this week, Kosovo and Lebanon.
In about half an hour, the Secretary-General will meet with Prime Minister al-Maliki. And he is also scheduled to meet, this evening, with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa.
Turning to Sudan, the judges of the International Criminal Court today issued warrants for the arrest of Sudan’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and a Janjaweed militia leader in connection with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
In a public decision, the ICC judges ruled that there is sufficient evidence on the merits of the Prosecutor’s case and reasonable grounds to believe that the two individuals are responsible for murder, rape, torture, the forced displacement of entire villages and other war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Prosecutor’s case not only highlights the connection between a senior minister in the Sudanese Government and a militia leader, it also shows the underlying operational system that enabled massive crimes against innocent civilians in Darfur. And all of this is contained in a press release from the International Criminal Court, available upstairs.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) reports that, despite recent numerous attacks against humanitarian workers in Darfur, the humanitarian community is still exploring how to increase its access and resume activities in hard-to-reach areas.
In West Darfur, for example, a key road has been reopened for humanitarian traffic after being declared a “no go” zone in October 2006. Efforts are also under way for the resumption of humanitarian operations in one area of West Darfur after a series of road incidents over the past months led to a significant reduction of humanitarian activities there. And there is more information in the form of a press briefing in Khartoum today conducted by the UN Mission in the Sudan.
And here in New York, as you all know, the Security Council held its first consultations for the month of May, under the US presidency of the Council, and began this morning’s work by adopting a programme of work for the coming month.
The Council members then heard a briefing in closed consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel on his recent trip to Lebanon. And he will be joining us shortly to brief you.
And right now the Security Council is holding an open meeting to hear a briefing by the Belgian Ambassador, who led the Security Council mission to Pristina and Belgrade, among other stops. And the Ambassador of Belgium, Johan Verbeke, intends to speak to reporters at the stakeout afterwards. So he will be at the stakeout following his briefing to the Security Council on his mission.
Turning to Lebanon, the Force Commander for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Claudio Graziano, and senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces today held a tripartite meeting to discuss the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). The focus was on the full respect of the Blue Line and the strict adherence to the cessation of hostilities agreement.
“The meeting was a productive one and I am pleased with the progress made,” the General said afterward, adding that the constructive attitude shown by the parties augurs well for the future.
And available today as a document is the Secretary-General’s latest report on Ethiopia and Eritrea. Noting a surge in the number of troops on either side of the disputed border and within the Temporary Security Zone between the two countries, the Secretary-General describes how the prolonged restrictions by Eritrea on the movement of UN patrols and helicopter flights restrict and delay the full implementation of the UN’s mandate.
The Secretary-General emphasizes that he is deeply concerned by the impasse in the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process and by the growing tensions between the neighbours. He appeals to the parties to carry on with the implementation of the Algiers Agreements and the rulings of the Boundary Commission.
And then the World Health Organization today launched a new patient safety initiative, aimed at reducing health-care mistakes.
An estimated 1 in 10 patients in developed countries is harmed while hospitalized, WHO says, and that figure is likely much higher in the developing world.
The health agency’s nine “patient safety solutions” are suggested guidelines that cover such topics as medication names that sound alike, correctly identifying patients, performing medical procedures at the correct body location and improved hand hygiene. We have more information from the WHO in a press release upstairs.
And this from yesterday, the Investments Committee and the Committee of Actuaries, which are both expert advisory Committees working under the auspices of the UN Joint Staff Pension Board, completed joint meetings that had begun on Monday. The Secretary-General met with the members of these Committees and expressed his appreciation for the dedicated contribution made by the two Committees to the smooth running of the Pension Fund.
During the course of the meetings, it was reported that the principal of the Fund now exceeded $38 billion and was in excellent financial health, earning good returns and enjoying a positive actuarial balance and a funding ratio close to 100 per cent.
The Committees also reviewed a draft of the first ever asset-liability management study to be conducted for the Fund. And there’s more information on this upstairs.
And because Mr. Michel has arrived and I said I would turn the floor over to him as soon as he arrived, I’m going to do so. And, since he has very limited time, I think maybe half an hour or so. Or maybe he can correct me on that one? Shorter than that. OK. So, please join me up here.
Posted: May 4 2007, 01:33 AM
If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICEs 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 Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Frehiwot Bekele, Special Assistant to the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon. Sorry I’m a few minutes late.
**Secretary-General in Sharm el-Sheikh
The Secretary-General today co-chaired the launch of the International Compact with Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and he told the delegates gathered for the launch that the Compact represents a road map for the next five years, aimed at helping Iraq achieve economic prosperity, political stability and lasting security.
The Secretary-General said, “Much work will be needed to keep Iraq on track, but I am confident that the people and the Government are up to the challenge.” He emphasized that, under the Compact, the Government has committed itself to pursuing a number of important initiatives to promote dialogue and reconciliation and to adhere to a legislative timetable designed to strengthen Iraqi unity.
“ Iraq is at a critical juncture,” he said. “Political solutions are essential to building the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous country.” And we have the entire speech upstairs.
The Compact meeting has just adopted by acclamation a resolution reaffirming the shared commitment of the 74 delegations to strengthen their partnership for a secure and stable Iraq. The Government of Iraq and the international community stressed the need for the Iraqi Government to pursue fundamental reforms in governance, strengthened anti-corruption measures, equal protection for all Iraqis and an institutional framework based on the rule of law.
The resolution adopted at Sharm el-Sheikh also pledges substantive international engagement and investments to bridge the gap between Iraq’s needs and its capabilities in the medium term, with a special emphasis on the granting of debt relief to Iraq.
Earlier today, the Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings, one of which was with the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Motaki. The Secretary-General discussed the nuclear issue with Motaki and urged Iran to continue its discussions with the European Union. They also talked about Lebanon and Iraq, with the Secretary-General calling for Iran to play a constructive role in building a national consensus in Iraq.
The Secretary-General, in a press conference just a few minutes ago, said he was pleased that a number of countries have made concrete commitments under the Compact today. He said that the specific financial commitments made by particular countries are estimated to be over $30 billion, including some commitments of debt relief on the Paris Club terms. And we have his opening remarks at the press conference upstairs and we should have a transcript of that press conference later today.
**Democratic Republic of Congo
Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission there reports progress in the disarmament process with the announcement by Peter Karim, a leader of one of eastern DRC’s largest militias, that an additional 500 of his fighters will surrender their weapons and reintegrate into civilian life this week. The Mission also reports that a joint UN-Congolese Army unit was able to verify the effective disarmament of some 320 individuals at the Mbandaka naval base. And a team from the Military Integration Structure recently left the Equateur province after registering some 50 soldiers and 130 former presidential security officers for reintegration. And we have copies of this press briefing upstairs.
And in Liberia, the UN Mission there says that Alan Doss, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, has presided over the official handover by the United Nations of a regional diamond certification office to the Liberian Government at a ceremony in Tubmanburg, a town near the capital, Monrovia.
Mr. Doss also took part in the dedication of the Liberian Government Diamond Office, and later attended a series of workshops intended to strengthen the skills of Liberian immigration workers.
And on Cyprus, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, Michael Møller, today addressed a gathering of international civil society in Nicosia.
In his remarks, he said no solution to the Cyprus problem would be sustainable unless every Cypriot truly felt that their voice had been heard as it was being shaped.
The Cyprus problem must have a Cypriot solution, Møller said. And we have his full remarks upstairs.
And on Sudan, the Registrar of the International Criminal Court is visiting three camps housing Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad as part of the outreach strategy the Court has to deal with Darfur.
His three-day visit, which ends tomorrow, is intended to explain the mandate and activities of the Court, especially the right of victims to participate in Court proceedings. The ICC has a press release with more details.
And turning to Somalia, the World Food Programme (WFP) says that it was stepping up a drive to deliver food to almost one third of the 365,000 people driven from their homes in Mogadishu by the recent fighting.
And meanwhile, on behalf of the UN refugee agency, WFP yesterday airlifted 14 tons of urgently needed relief supplies to Baidoa. And there’s more on that upstairs as well.
**World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund
In a joint policy statement issued today in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are urging countries, donor agencies and NGOs to fund and promote the use of vaccine vial monitors.
The monitors are printed directly on vaccine vials, and change colour when a vaccine may have been damaged by heat and rendered ineffective.
WHO says the monitors not only allow health workers to recognize and replace millions of doses of unusable vaccines, but also allow them to keep tens of thousands of unrefrigerated doses that are still effective and previously might have been discarded. And there’s a press release on that.
**United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime/World Bank
We also want to flag to you a joint report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank on the high rate of crime and violence in the Caribbean and its threat to growth and prosperity.
The report is being released in Washington, D.C., at 1 p.m. And there’s an embargoed press release upstairs on that.
**World Press Freedom Day
And as you are no doubt aware, today is World Press Freedom Day.
In a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General notes that more than 150 media professionals lost their lives in the line of duty in the past year. He also appeals once again for the immediate and safe release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston.
We have copies of his message upstairs, as well as a message from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour.
UNESCO, meanwhile, is marking World Press Freedom Day by holding a two-day seminar in Medellin, Colombia, where it plans to award its Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize posthumously to slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
Here in New York, UNESCO is also sponsoring a luncheon at 1 p.m. on “Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity”. And at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 5, there will be a panel discussion on “The citizen journalist: The Internet as a tool for freedom of speech”.
And just a couple of things: one is an appointment that we should just flag for you and another is a clarification.
Robert F. Benson of Canada has been appointed Director of the Ethics Office and began his work on 1 May. Mr. Benson is a former Interim Ethics Commissioner in the Canadian Parliament and, prior to that, he served as Deputy Ethics Counsellor within the Canadian Government. There’s a short bio upstairs of him.
Mr. Benson succeeds Ms. Nancy Hurtz-Soyka who has served as Interim Director of the Ethics Office since its inception in early 2006.
And the clarification is in response to some press queries about a meeting that the Secretary-General held on Lebanon two days ago.
The Secretary-General and Ambassador Mohamed Chatah, Senior Adviser to the Lebanese Prime Minister, discussed the proposed establishment of a tribunal of an international character for Lebanon.
Contrary to some reports, at no time did Ambassador Chatah ask if he could attend a meeting of the Security Council. Accordingly, there was no rejection of such a request.
Ambassador Chatah presented to the Secretary-General the views of the Government of Lebanon regarding the status and prospects for ratifying the tribunal. He also underlined the commitment of the Lebanese Government to see that the tribunal is established in order to enhance stability and the rule of law in Lebanon.
In response, the Secretary-General briefed Ambassador Chatah on discussions taking place at the United Nations on this issue.
And that’s what I have for you. We have the General Assembly Spokeswoman here to brief you as well. But before we turn to her, any questions for me? Let’s go from the back to the front.
**Questions and Answers
Question: At the beginning of this week there was a meeting of the Afghan President and Pakistani President in Ankara. Did the United Nations issue a statement about it and does the UN have a comment about the meeting?
Spokesperson: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite hear. There was a meeting in Ankara?
Question: Yes. In Ankara between Afghan President Karzai and Pakistan President Musharraf with the Turkish President. So I just wonder if the UN issued any statement about the meeting or declaration.
Spokesperson: No. We have not.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that the UN Mission in Afghanistan believed the Ankara Declaration deserves support and says that it looks forward to seeing it being acted upon. The UN has consistently advocated for better dialogue and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, she added.]
Question: Yesterday, it was announced that Jan Egeland, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Political Affairs, was appointed Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Is the Secretary-General concerned that this might be seen as a conflict of interest?
Spokesperson: I don’t believe so. As you know, Mr. Egeland will be taking up appointments from time to time and he will be affiliated with the Department of Political Affairs on this. And I checked with them and I think he will continue to work on an as-needed basis if there are reasons for him to contribute.
Question: Tuesday it was announced that the report on resolution 1559 would be released, and then yesterday. Why this delay? Do you have any reason?
Spokesperson: No. I don’t know if there was an actual due date for this, but I understand that the report is being finalized and I’ll let you know as soon as it goes to Council members, as we usually do.
Question: It’s a follow-up to Mr. Abbadi’s question. Yesterday, I was told that Jan Egeland and other people are paid on this “whenever actually employed basis”. That they’re paid as a USG but just for the days that they work. But they have another employer. Are they also paid by the other employer at the same time? Meaning, are they serving two masters? And what’s the review process? In this case there was no conflict. But who in the UN reviews whether someone working for the UN and also a private entity, that there’s not a conflict? What’s the process?
Spokesperson: Yes, if they are working as a part-time job, they are paid from their other employer. Well, you’d have to ask them about their other employer. In terms of if there’s a conflict of interest, that’s something that the OHRM, our Human Resources Department, would be vetting and, if necessary, with the advice of our Legal Department.
Question: How many “whenever actually employed” people are there working for the UN? And can we get a list of those?
Spokesperson: I think we’ve mentioned this from this podium. But, as you know, the new Secretary-General is still in the process of reviewing the various senior officials. So as soon as the line-up is complete, we will obviously let you know.
Question: Can we even just know the current line-up? I’m not saying like who he’s going to appoint. I got a sense yesterday when I got your answer that I didn’t know how many of them that there are.
Spokesperson: I think there is a review process going on. So I don’t think we’ll have anything available until that is complete. But if I can get you something, I will.
Question: Just to follow up on this first of all before I go to my question. Is there any criteria to decide whether world luminaries who are working on a per-job basis get USG-type compensation or do they get $1 a year? Who decides which person deserves $1 a year and which person deserves a USG-scale compensation?
Spokesperson: It’s the Secretary-General ultimately.
Question: Is there any criteria or is it just pressures?
Spokesperson: Senior appointments at that level, the Secretary-General, as you know, has, as in the Climate Change Envoys, chosen people of a certain calibre that he can utilize to bring about global consensus. And for that kind of a job he taps people who may not be necessarily available on a full-time basis and it’s basically an economical way to get his work done.
Question: And then you get people that are just as prominent like Egeland and working for their Government at the same time, and how come they get USG scale rather than $1? I mean, you can use the same economical way there?
Spokesperson: Well, this is part of the negotiations as in any job.
Question: So the people who get $1 a year are (inaudible)? But to my real question, this is just to follow up on a question I asked earlier this week, have the auditors in North Korea asked for a visa to enter the country and was that visa accepted or rejected?
Spokesperson: On that, as you know, there is an audit going on by the external Board of Auditors. It is still ongoing and so, as long as the process is ongoing, we really can’t comment further on this. My understanding on your specific question about the visas to North Korea is that the visas were not requested. And as far as we know they have been doing their work out of New York. The reason why I say that it is our understanding is because we don’t speak for the external Board of Auditors. The external Board of Auditors is independent of the Secretariat. They were asked by the ACABQ to conduct this audit at our request. So we do really need to pose that question to the external Board of Auditors.
Question: To follow up on that, would the Secretary-General accept an audit of a country programme if the auditor had not visited the country? Would it be seen by the Secretary-General as a comprehensive audit?
Spokesperson: Again, right now the audit process is ongoing. As long as the audit process is ongoing, we can’t comment on it. The report has not been submitted to the ACABQ yet.
Question: If the visa was denied, would the Secretary-General consider pressuring North Korea to grant a visa to auditors?
Spokesperson: Again, Benny, I think you are asking a hypothetical question because at this point the process is still ongoing. The Board of Auditors is still working on their report.
Question: I have two questions: one is a follow-up on this conversation that’s taken place now between you and Benny. Do you have a list of people who were hired at $1 a day with diplomatic immunity who are not being reconsidered for the jobs again because there are some big people who were here who have been rehired? Is there a list of this from the Secretary-General? Can we get that list?
Spokesperson: As I mentioned earlier, the intention was to provide such a list once the review process was complete and we have the whole new line-up. There are, as you know, some senior officials whose contracts have lapsed and they have not continued. So taking all of this into consideration, I think the intention is to make this all transparent and available once the review process is complete.
Question: Since today is World Press Freedom Day, I’d just like to point out that most of the journalists who have been killed in the line of duty have been in Iraq in the last four or five years. Who is responsible? Is the Iraqi Government responsible for bringing those people to justice or the Coalition Forces, the occupying forces over there, to bring these people who have been kidnapping the journalists, to bring these people to justice? Can you tell us about that? And also I asked about certain attacks taking place in Pakistan. I had asked about a Secretary-General statement. I was promised they would look into it, but they never have.
Spokesperson: I’m sorry. What is your question about Pakistan?
Question: I had asked Michele once about when there were attacks against Pakistani newspapers, and does the Secretary-General have something to say? And she said not at this time, probably later. And now in Iraq in particular, where most of the kidnappings have taken place, has there been accountability at all of who has been killing the journalists?
Spokesperson: On your specific question, I will follow up. I wasn’t aware that this request had been made. But in terms of how the Secretary-General feels about the freedom of press and journalists, of course he considers a free and secure press to be one of the key ingredients for democracy and peace. Your question about Iraq, it sounds to me it requires a legal answer. I’d have to find that out for you.
Question: But the only thing is do you know, you don’t necessarily have to have this answer right now, do you know if the Iraqi Government or the Coalition Forces, out of dozens of kidnappings of journalists and beheadings, were they ever able to apprehend the people who did commit these crimes?
Spokesperson: I’d have to check with our Mission there to see if they have any first-hand information. But as for your general question about who is responsible for the protection of their citizens, and which is in this case Iraq, it is usually the country which is responsible for the protection of their citizens.
Question: (inaudible) there was no comment in Iraq (inaudible)?
Spokesperson: We’ll check with UNAMI, we’ll check with our Mission in Iraq and get back to you if there’s anything more on this.
Question: Who is responsible for this in Gaza?
Question: Going back to Iraq, does the Secretary-General have any intention to announce an increase of the UN presence in Iraq in the framework of the Iraq Compact Group and all the talk that’s taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh?
Spokesperson: I think he’s answered this on a number of occasions. The security concerns in Iraq are very much on his mind. And if he and the experts feel that the security conditions are right, then there is nothing more the Secretary-General would like than to be in Iraq to help the people of Iraq.
Question: But in the framework of this conference taking place on Iraq, can (inaudible)
Spokesperson: No. This is, as he pointed out, setting the groundwork for the future.
Question: Two questions: one is that the UN nuclear conference today failed over Iranian objectives. What does the UN have to say about this? And my second question is that in the Danish press today, there were calls to the UN to (inaudible) the move with the “oil-for-food” scandal by the UN. As they say in the Danish press, the UN has stopped investigating. Can you say something on that, too, please?
Spokesperson: On your second question, I’m not familiar with this press report, so we’d have to look at it before. I don’t quite understand the context that it’s coming from. Your first question was about the NPT Conference in Vienna. My understanding of that is it’s one of the preliminary conferences in a long process and our understanding is that it’s a process that is ongoing and will be resuming shortly. But it is a lead-up to something that will be happening quite a ways down, so let’s see what happens.
Question: I just have a follow-up question related to the DESA investigation. I don’t know if you have an answer today but it would be helpful to have it tomorrow. There is a rumour out there that Guido Bertucci, who heads the Division of Administration, is going to be retiring soon. And the question is, how might this impact on the investigation? If he retires, does that mean it ends? Does it continue? Do they hold off his retirement? I mean we had some precedence, like Alexander Yakovlev and Benon Sevan in which they were allowed to retire with their pension and everything intact. What becomes of the investigation? And also, there’s talk out there that, even though there were recommendations made to DESA on how to fix things within their shop, those recommendations were not being followed. Do you have any follow-up on that?
Spokesperson: I have nothing further on this today, so I’d have to look into it for you.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that Bertucci’s retirement was not until July 2008.]
Question: I understand that the Lebanese Mission had requested to attend yesterday’s meeting of the Security Council. Are they not aware about the regulations regarding closed meetings of the Security Council?
Spokesperson: I just read you a clarification on your precise question, so if you could pick it up, or I can give it to you after this.
Question: When you were talking about the meeting of the Secretary-General in Egypt, he addressed, obviously, Iran, and Michèle previously said that he did not have any intention to go to Tehran. Did he get any invitation by the Iranian officials so far to visit Iran?
Spokesperson: Not that I know of, but I’m reading you what was reported to me from their meeting today. So I don’t have anything further on that.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later told the reporter that the Secretary-General had received an invitation to visit Iran but that no decision had been taken on that yet.]
Question: I wanted to follow up on Benny’s question about the North Korea audit. I thought the Secretary-General had written to North Korea on 28 February and you all announced it on 6 March that he’d written to North Korea saying please help my auditors. So if they weren’t even going to apply for a visa, what was the thinking behind that letter? Can you say why Ban Ki-moon wrote to North Korea and said help me if in fact there was no help needed?
Spokesperson: You’d have to ask the Board of Auditors.
Question: He wrote the letter.
Spokesperson: Ever since he called for or he asked the ACABQ to request the audit, there have been a number of steps. Actually what it was, it was that DPRK, I believe, is the one who sent him a letter expressing their concerns and he responded back to DPRK about their concerns. I think that’s the letter you’re referring to.
Question: Yeah, but he said help us.
Spokesperson: But again, you’d have to ask the Board of Auditors because they’re the ones who investigated. We don’t know how much cooperation or non-cooperation they are receiving.
Question: Just one follow-up on this, just a reminder, the idea when he announced, I distinctly remember the figure of 90 days on this, then 100 and something anniversary day. Is there any thinking about the slipping of the deadline?
Spokesperson: I checked back to see, because we had Warren Sachs actually brief you about this process, and we checked back at his transcript. And what he said was that it would have been a proposed time frame of 90 days so again you’d have to ask the Board of Auditors if they consider this to be a delay.
Question: But if the proposal deadline is passed and gone, how much would we let it slip? I mean if it becomes 190 days, is that acceptable?
Spokesperson: My understanding again is, and it’s only my understanding because we don’t speak for the Board of Auditors, but the ACABQ which I mentioned is the body that requested the audit is starting to meet on 14 May. So my understanding again is that at this session there will be something presented.
Question: I also remember Michèle said something like “the clock is ticking”. So it’s ticking. Yesterday, we had a meeting of the Committee to Protect Journalists and they made a list of the 10 backsliding countries. Number 3 was the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where obviously the UN has had a big presence for many years. So a question that was raised, and obviously they didn’t know because they just did the report, what is the UN, DPKO and other parts of the UN system doing in countries where they have a big presence to actually actualize and implement freedom of the press? If incidents take place in countries where they have a big presence, do they speak to the Government? Just in DRC for example -- where they were almost running the country -- how does the UN itself actually implement freedom of press on the ground, in countries like Haiti, where journalists are killed, or like the DRC?
Spokesperson: I’ll check in the DRC for you.
[The correspondent was later told that, in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission there, as part of its general mandate, monitors human rights conditions and protests violations of press freedom.]
Question: On Kosovo, the members of the UN mission to Kosovo returned and it seemed that they came back with different ideas or different concepts about the problem in Kosovo. I was wondering about the position of the Secretary-General. Does he still believe in Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan?
Spokesperson: Yes, he does. Okay, now the General Assembly Spokesperson.
Briefing by Special Assistant to the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
I am going to be very brief. I don’t have much.
**World Press Freedom Day
Regarding World Press Freedom Day, this morning at the Department of Public Information (DPI) conference held on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Assembly President Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa had a statement delivered on her behalf by a Vice-President of the Assembly, Ambassador Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein.
In her statement, the President made a special plea for the immediate and safe release of the BBC’s correspondent, Alan Johnston. “Not just Alan Johnston, but every reporter unlawfully imprisoned must be set free,” she emphasized.
**Security Council Reform
The other two items are just things that I would like to flag again. We announced them before.
This afternoon, the Assembly President will chair an informal meeting of the General Assembly’s Open-ended Working Group on Security Council Reform.
And next week, Thursday and Friday, she is convening an informal thematic debate on the topic “Civilizations and the Challenge for Peace: Obstacles and Opportunities.”
As I mentioned before, this will consist of four panel discussions on four themes and there will be a concert on Thursday and a side event on Friday at lunchtime on the arts as a means to bridge gaps between different cultures.
**Questions and Answers
Question: On this report on the Security Council reforms, is the President of the General Assembly concerned that rivalry is the main problem, that the Security Council reforms are somehow…
Spokesperson: You mean rivalry?
Question: Yes, rivalry.
Spokesperson: Well, it’s something that the Member States will have to work out among themselves. Of course, it’s a very contentious, very difficult question, so they all have to come to some agreement. There are differences on all kinds of aspects of the reform of the Security Council.
Question: Did she stress any of her personal concerns about the report that’s been digested so far?
Spokesperson: Well, this afternoon is the first opportunity that the Member States will have to express their opinions about the report and then we’ll see where things are from there.
Question: Is the ACABQ [Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions] willing to pay for the audit much beyond 90 days?
Spokesperson: I’ll have to find out. I don’t know. I’ll have to find out, Benny.
Question: There’s some controversy about two GA-related appointments. One would be Zimbabwe now slated to head the CSD [Commission on Sustainable Development] and Belarus’ application or running to be on the Human Rights Council in Geneva. So, I’m wondering if the President of the General Assembly has a comment, if not on these particular countries’ bids, then on the fact that in the elections there’s no competition; there’s just regional groups who put forward a name and they get on it. This was the idea behind the Human Rights Council and the CSD. Does she have any comment on whether these are working out, particularly the Human Rights Council, in the way in which they were hoped as a GA reform?
Spokesperson: On the Human Rights Council elections, the results are not automatic. Not every country that just puts its name for candidacy will be elected. They have to get an absolute majority. It’s an absolute majority, not just a simple majority of those present and voting. That was what was agreed upon during a protracted negotiation process last year. So having your candidacy on the slate doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to be elected.
Question: But I think it was reported that in this round of elections, that in all of the seats there was only one person running for it.
Spokesperson: It doesn’t mean that they will get automatically elected. They have to get an absolute majority vote.
Question: So there could be regions that aren’t even represented on it?
Spokesperson: We’ll have to see what the election results will be. Every country that’s going to be on the Council will have to get an absolute majority vote.
Question: Just because there’s some controversy, if she has any comments on it.
Spokesperson: I will see if she has any comments to make on it.
Posted: Aug 31 2007, 11:12 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
**Guest at Noon
Our guest at the noon briefing today, shortly, is going to be Margareta Wahlström, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, who will update you on the humanitarian situation in Sudan and in Darfur on the eve of the Secretary-General’s visit to Sudan. That trip will also take him to Chad and to Libya.
**Secretary-General on UNMOVIC
Earlier today, we issued a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the discovery of materials at the UNMOVIC office yesterday. And in it, the Secretary-General says that he takes very seriously the discovery of potentially hazardous material at the UNMOVIC office in New York. He has given immediate instructions to launch an internal investigation drawing on external expertise in close cooperation with the US and New York City authorities. He has asked the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security Services, David Veness, and the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Alicia Bárcena, in charge of the safety and security of staff and Secretariat premises, to immediately return to Headquarters. They are to provide substantive support to the Deputy Secretary-General and the Chef de Cabinet who have both cancelled their participation in the senior leadership meeting in Turin, in order to closely monitor the situation on his behalf.
The Secretary-General immediately sought and was given confirmation that the materials in the custody of UNMOVIC posed no risk to the staff or general population. All necessary safety measures continue to be taken. The inquiry will examine the circumstances under which potentially hazardous substances were brought to the United Nations Headquarters in New York from Iraq, the reasons why discovery of the items was made only in 2007, and the safety procedures in place at Headquarters and in the field offices, as well as the extent to which these procedures were followed. And that statement is available for you upstairs.
And just to bring you up to speed from yesterday’s briefing on this, shortly after 4:30 p.m. yesterday, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) confirmed that US officials successfully completed the removal and handover to the FBI of the liquid substances discovered in the UNMOVIC archives located in 866 UN Plaza. We are assured by the national and UNMOVIC experts that the site has not been contaminated and it is safe for the occupants to return to their workplace.
**Secretary-General on Afghanistan
Also late yesterday afternoon, we had a statement attributable to the Spokesperson on the release of the Korean hostages in Afghanistan, in which the Secretary-General welcomed the release of the remaining Korean hostages who have been held by the Taliban for over six weeks. He commended the effort of the Afghan authorities and of all those who have assisted with the negotiations to obtain their release. Despite the tragic death of two of the hostages in July, he is happy that those released are now on their way to being safely reunited with their loved ones. The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of the other nationals who are being held against their will in Afghanistan. These include several Afghans and one German national. The Secretary-General deplores the ongoing abductions and senseless murders of innocent civilians in Afghanistan.
**Appointment on Counter-Terrorism
And today we have one Secretary-General appointment. He has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Mr. Mike Smith of Australia to serve as Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate at the Assistant Secretary-General level. Mr. Smith will succeed Mr. Javier Ruperez of Spain who left the post at the end of June. Mr. Smith is currently serving as Australia’s Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism and prior to that he held a number of senior postings in the Australian diplomatic service. And there’s more information on the appointment upstairs.
And today here at UN Headquarters, it is the last day of the Republic of Congo presidency of the Security Council and there are no meetings or consultations scheduled. On the first, tomorrow, France will formally assume the presidency of the Council for the month of September. And we expect the French Ambassador to brief you here on Wednesday, at a time yet to be confirmed, on the month’s programme.
** Palestinian Territories
And in a new report on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) details the humanitarian impact on Palestinians in the West Bank of Israeli settlements and other infrastructure. Some 38 per cent of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure, the report says. Israeli settlements and other infrastructure in the West Bank, including an extensive road network, checkpoints, roadblocks, and the barrier, deprive Palestinians of access to land and limit their ability to move freely, OCHA says. It adds that the West Bank has been split into a series of enclaves separating Palestinian communities from each other. The report, cited by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Michael Williams at a Security Council earlier this week, is available on OCHA’s website.
**Democratic Republic of Congo -- Mission
And turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission in the DRC continues to follow closely the situation in North Kivu where fighting occurred yesterday between the FARDC [Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and pro-Nkunda elements of the mixed forces in the town of Katale. MONUC is exerting pressure on both sides to cease fighting and to resume dialogue to settle their differences. As a result of the fighting in the area of Katale, MONUC sent 200 reinforcement troops to that area from elsewhere in the Kivus. The Mission has also increased overflights by helicopters to get a better picture on the ground, as well as to deter further fighting. Furthermore, MONUC, the Mission, is working closely with the humanitarian community to provide humanitarian assistance to persons affected by this recent fighting, including those who have been displaced.
**Democratic Republic of Congo -- Humanitarian
And John Holmes, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, will arrive in the Democratic Republic of Congo Monday for a weeklong visit and he is expected to visit the Kivus. And concerning that region, the UN Refugee Agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reports that thousands of newly displaced people are fleeing tensions and insecurity in North Kivu. According to the agency, the population of one of the makeshift camps has doubled in three weeks, hosting now an estimated 18,000 people. UNHCR also says that more displaced persons have arrived at various sites in the last few days as the population fears clashes between regular DRC Government troops, troops resisting integration into the regular army and various rebel groups. UNHCR expressed concern over the spiralling displacements in eastern DRC and said the situation could turn into a humanitarian and human rights disaster. And there’s more on this in the UNHCR briefing notes from Geneva.
**UNHCR in Mauritania and Syria
And also in UNHCR news today, they launched a $7 million appeal to fund a voluntary repatriation of Mauritanian refugees from Senegal and Mali. And there’s more on that upstairs. And in Syria, UNHCR announced that it will start the first food distribution programme for Iraqi refugees tomorrow. Along with the World Food Programme (WFP), the agency will distribute two months of food rations to cover the needs of refugee families during the upcoming month of Ramadan.
And in the note, the UNHCR mentions that they find text messages to mobile phones as one the most effective ways of communicating with the refugees who often do not have a stable address but either they or someone close to them in their immediate community has a mobile phone. There’s more details on that in the UNHCR briefing notes upstairs.
** Nepal Floods
And in Nepal, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) assesses that the floods and landslides in the country by 21 August have caused at least 146 deaths, displaced more than 22,000 families and affected close to 500,000 people. And there’s more upstairs in a WHO press release.
** Pakistan Humanitarian
And in Pakistan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the situation there remains critical for an estimated 250,000 people in the worst affected areas after the June cyclone and recent flooding. There’s more on that upstairs as well.
**Climate Change Talks
And the 2007 Vienna Climate Change talks, which were held all week long, are expected to conclude today. In an interview with UN Radio, Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), noted that the talks helped to point to the main elements needed for a long-term climate change approach. He stressed the importance of mobilizing investment in order to address climate change and said the international community had a responsibility to developing countries in providing them with incentives and financial assistance. Yvo de Boer also said that the Secretary-General’s High level meeting on climate change, scheduled in September, was a very important step. “The world needs a political sign at the highest political level that serious negotiations need to begin,” he said.
And turning to the Week Ahead, which we have for you, I just wanted to flag a couple of things. The International Criminal Court says that a hearing ahead of the resumption of the trial of former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who is accused of recruiting child soldiers among other crimes, will take place in the courtroom at The Hague on Tuesday. There’s more on that upstairs.
And next Tuesday, the spokesman for the President of the sixth-second session of the General Assembly will be formally introduced to you at the noon briefing.
And finally, on Wednesday next week, the same day as the Security Council President’s briefing to you, Ibrahim Gambari, the Special Adviser on the International Compact and Other Issues, will provide an update on the implementation of the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate in Myanmar, at your request.
And that’s what I have for you. Anything for me? Matthew.
**Questions and Answers
Question: On Wednesday, the UN Staff Council passed a resolution calling on the Secretary-General to direct the Administrator of the UNDP to accept the UN Ethics Office, to restore this whistle-blower to UN employment and to disperse the culture of impunity and other things. What is the Secretary-General’s response to this resolution by the UN Staff Council?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have an immediate response from him. I think his response stands from his press conference that he had with you just earlier this week. And we are awaiting the UNDP Executive Board to make an announcement on their independent auditing members.
Question: But obviously, the Staff Council was aware of what he said and I guess they’re pretty unconvinced if they then passed a resolution calling on him to this.
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have any immediate reaction for the Secretary-General. As you know, he’s over in Turin. I’m not sure he saw that. But I can tell you, as of now, his position is the same as is outlined in his remarks to you earlier this week on Tuesday. Evelyn.
Question: What’s with the envoys to Iraq and Sudan that he said he would announce? Are they going to be announced in Sudan?
Deputy Spokesperson: All I can say is we don’t have the announcement today.
Question: He said a couple of days before he left.
Deputy Spokesperson: Unfortunately, we do not have the announcements of the appointments to make today. I will try to let you know by the end of the day when we hope to have these announcements.
Question: And to follow up, it seems there’s no rational reason for the Secretary-General not to have filled the Sudan post for nearly a year. And since he’s not an irrational man, is it Khartoum who has turned down candidates or what? Because with the top being vacant, it generates other vacancies.
Deputy Spokesperson: I think we can’t really discuss the details of why this appointment cannot be announced today but we will hope to have it as soon as possible.
Question: I’m not talking about today. That’s not what I asked.
Deputy Spokesperson: We will have the announcement as soon as we have it ready to go. We’ll let you know.
Question: I asked why it’s taken a year or nearly a year.
Deputy Spokesperson: First of all, we’ve had an able acting Special Representative on the ground, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, who has been there and ably leading the Mission. In the meantime, the Secretary-General has appointed a Special Envoy for the peace process who’s been very active, Jan Eliasson, who’s been working together with the AU. And he has appointed a joint special representative for Darfur. There are people who are in place who are dealing with issues in Sudan and in Darfur.
Question: Reports from the region say that, because the top isn’t filled, a lot of other vacancies aren’t filled.
Deputy Spokesperson: Evelyn, I think I’ve said as much as I can on this.
Question: Are you aware about any other components that were dismantled in Iraq under UNMOVIC, any others stored here in New York other than these tubes?
Deputy Spokesperson: No.
Question: Are we going to get a readout of what’s under discussion in Turin? And also, on the Secretary-General as he thinks through what the Staff Union decided in the resolution Matthew mentioned? That readout, too. Are they discussing the Staff Union resolution?
Deputy Spokesperson: As you know, the overall purpose of the senior-level retreat is to look ahead, take stock of the first eight months and look ahead to the whole UN system implementing the Secretary-General’s vision. So it is a discussion on a macro level. In terms of a readout on how it went, we will, of course, try to get one for you from the people who are there.
Question: And specifically, what and if anything was discussed on the Staff Union resolution, that would be helpful.
Deputy Spokesperson: Okay.
Question: Now the hostages in Afghanistan are released and are on their way home. Did Mr. Ban speak with the Taliban for releasing them and, if so, does that mean the United Nations does not mind any more negotiating with terrorist groups like the Taliban?
Deputy Spokesperson: I cannot confirm the Secretary-General’s involvement in the process. As you know, hostage negotiations --
Question: Making contacts --
Deputy Spokesperson: He is the Secretary-General and he was doing his mission, he [does] what he can to obviously expedite the process. In terms of the UN’s dealing with organizations like the Taliban, regardless of this particular incident, I would like to mention that the UN does, especially for humanitarian considerations, negotiate with all parties whenever it needs to.
Question: Including with terrorist groups, right?
Deputy Spokesperson: I won’t go beyond what I just said. Matthew.
Question: A follow-up question on the phosgene. Is it possible to know two things? When did UNMOVIC, they found it Friday, when did they tell UN Security? And also, when did Mr. Ban become aware that something had been found, not necessarily that it was phosgene, but when did he become aware something had been found and when was the host country informed?
Deputy Spokesperson: I mentioned to you yesterday that as soon as they were able to identify, to match the numbers, the host Government was informed. When Security was informed, we’d have to ask UNMOVIC about that.
Question: How about Mr. Ban?
Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General obviously was the one who informed the Security Council so he obviously was on top of the situation.
Question: I’m just focusing on, to put the story to rest, if they found it on Friday, what happened then? Even if they didn’t yet know what it was, if they found an unknown substance in a UN facility on Friday, what happens in the four days before --
Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll have to ask UNMOVIC when they informed Security.
Question: Just the SG question. It would be good to know when he knew, that’s all.
Deputy Spokesperson: Okay. [The Deputy Spokesperson announced that the Secretary-General was informed early evening Wednesday.]
Question: On Darfur, is there any reaction to the letter written by Prime Minister Gordon-Brown and President Sarkozy, where they are asking to deploy the force, I mean, they’re asking basically what the SG has been asking several times. Does he think it’s a positive step?
Deputy Spokesperson: Again, I don’t have a direct comment on what came out in the press today but I know the Secretary-General has, in his recent meetings and conversations with both those leaders, discussed Darfur. And I think they are working on the same page and trying to consolidate the progress that is being made.
Question: On Darfur, does the Secretary-General insist that the Khartoum Government hand over indicted war criminals?
Deputy Spokesperson: Sorry?
Question: Does the Secretary-General insist that the Khartoum Government had over alleged war criminals indicted by the International Criminal Court?
Deputy Spokesperson: I think the issue that there can be no impunity is one that will be raised during his visit there.
Question: But with regards to Sudan, does the Secretary-General insist that Khartoum hand over alleged war criminals indicted by the Criminal Court?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Criminal Court, as you know, has an indictment out and the Secretary-General obviously supports the actions of the ICC. As Michèle mentioned to you the other day, the Secretary-General did meet with the ICC Prosecutor just recently and they discussed this matter.
Question: But he didn’t say whether he was going to bring this up with the President. He was asked and he didn’t answer that question. And since he’s going to Sudan, the fact that he supports the Court is one thing, but --
Deputy Spokesperson: Let’s get a readout for you after his meeting with the President.
Question: Since there are so many unanswered questions related to this phosgene incident, would it be possible, since we’re now heading for a long weekend and all, that someone could come in from Security and brief us on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, as you know, right now, we’ve just asked, the Secretary-General has asked Mr. Veness and Alicia Bárcena to come back. So he’s ordered an investigation and he’s asked those two to come back. So let’s see how the investigation goes. I think right now the investigation will be looking into a lot of the questions we have and what they’ll be looking into is spelled out in the Secretary-General’s statement.
Question: On a human level, I think all of us working in the building and probably staff as well, it’s a little freakish to have an agent sitting in an office that could potentially cause people’s lungs to collapse. So would it be possible to not wait too long for people to get back to us to brief us on our own security and what’s being done? You know, there are whole levels of things. We even had that scare with the white substance some time ago, there are issues with asbestos in the building and things like that.
Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll ask Security if they can do a briefing for you.
Question: I have a follow-up to that. Bruno Henn, I guess he’s in charge of Security in the Headquarters building. Is he around and could he maybe we can hear from him today given that he wasn’t going to Turin, I don’t think he was going.
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t think we have anything today scheduled for you. And as I said, Mr. Veness, who is the head of overall Security for the United Nations, is on his way back.
Question: On Iran, what are Mr. Ban’s comments to the IAEA report in which Mr. ElBaradei announces that Iran has already started slowing down its nuclear programme, which is operating beyond its capacity, which of course contradicts with the US doubts about the real intention of Tehran?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have an immediate reaction to the IAEA report by the Secretary-General. The report was just posted on the IAEA website, I believe yesterday, and the IAEA Board will be assessing that report in their meeting on 10 September. So as of now, what I have for the Secretary-General on Iran, is what he mentioned to you on Tuesday at his press conference. Yes, Matthew.
Question: I want to ask you about this Turin meeting while it’s still going on. Yesterday you gave me a list of non-UN people who were attending. I thank you for that. But I wanted to know, first, you said it was a non-public meeting. So, two of these people are journalists. In what capacity are they participating? Who decided? It seems strange that ,if its an internal UN meeting, to decide how to do it, what’s the purpose, process and, I guess, the agreement to have --
Deputy Spokesperson: The purpose, it’s a wide-ranging look at various aspects of the United Nations and my understanding is that there’ll be a segment on communications of the United Nations, and if the journalists are there, I guess they’re probably there for that segment. But as I just mentioned to Jonathan, we’ll try to get a readout from a participant on how it went.
Question: Also, yesterday you said the Chef de Cabinet was still in town, Mr. Nambiar. Was it always intended that he would remain here when everyone went to Turin?
Deputy Spokesperson: I just mentioned to you that both the Deputy Secretary-General and the Chef de Cabinet have cancelled their appearance in Turin in order to deal with this situation.
Question: I thought you said yesterday that the Chef de Cabinet was on the case but he was already in transit?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, the Chef de Cabinet was here, he never departed. The idea was always to have one or the other of them here but they have both now cancelled their appearance in Turin.
Question: And then this is the last question on this Chef de Cabinet. There’s this story that he was quoted as saying a couple of weeks ago that India had not done enough to get on the Security Council or in the UN. Now there’s a story quoting the Indian Ambassador taking issue with that, saying, if that’s what Vijay Nambiar said, that’s wrong. So, I guess I’m asking you, in what capacity was Vijay Nambiar speaking in the Indian press?
Deputy Spokesperson: I’m not familiar with the press report so I’ll have to look into that for you.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later informed the correspondent that Mr. Nambiar was speaking in his personal capacity given his former position as Permanent Representative of India.]
Question: Two questions. One, is the list of who is at Turin, is that available for everybody, for all journalists, or is it someplace that we can look at?
Deputy Spokesperson: I believe that the Spokeswoman, who is over there, mentioned today that there were 54 Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General over there.
Question: And the non-UN people, is that available, the list that you just mentioned to Matthew?
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: And then the second question, with the change in the new General Assembly, will there be any more briefings from the current spokesperson?
Deputy Spokesperson: Oh, yes. On Tuesday I think they will. As you know, the current session is still in place, so we’ll have them brief and they will introduce the Spokesperson for the next General Assembly session. Yes, Mark.
Question: I’m just following the effective announcement three weeks ago by the US Mission that Staffan de Mistura would be the new UN rep to Iraq. Has that changed or what is the situation now? Why is it taking the Secretary-General so long to confirm what the US announced?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have no announcement to give you. I have no reason except that we’re not ready.
Question: Is there a readout on the Kosovo round of negotiations on Wednesday?
Deputy Spokesperson: No immediate UN reaction. I think they have a deadline to report back to the Security Council so we’re waiting for that.
If there are no other questions, have a good long weekend. Monday is a UN holiday. The Secretary-General will be heading towards Sudan.
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