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PRESS BRIEFING BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT

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

2 December 2004

In a briefing today on the Security Council’s programme for December, the Council’s President for the month, Abdallah Baali, Algeria’s Permanent Representative, drew correspondents’ attention to a number of open briefings on the Sudan, Iraq, and the Middle East, as well as to an open debate on civilian protection. Several questions were devoted to Algeria’s response to the findings of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, released earlier today.

Mr. Baali informed correspondents that the Council had heard a briefing this morning from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council had considered the matter, again, very seriously, very thoroughly. Members had expressed their very strong concern about the situation and condemned developments on the shared border with Rwanda. Members called on both parties to exercise maximum restraint and to assume their obligations inside their territories and on the border between the two countries, to avoid a worsening of the situation. The experts would meet this afternoon to discuss a draft presidential statement of the Council, which France would provide.

Asked for details from the briefing, specifically concerning reports that Rwandan troops had crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that Mr. Guéhenno had informed the Council that, according to the United Nations Mission there -- MONUC -- there were soldiers equipped with weapons that the Rwandan army possessed, so it was assumed that those soldiers were from Rwanda. But, there was “no really strong reporting by MONUC that we are really dealing with Rwandan troops”. “The general sense is that there are Rwandan troops, although nobody could really confirm that in the clearest way”, he summed up.

Responding to a question in his national capacity about the Panel’s recommendations for Security Council reform, he said that the report had just been issued today and required a thorough study. There were obviously two options for Council reform. Also clear was that there had been no unanimity of views inside the Panel about that, and there would be no unanimity of views inside the General Assembly. The two options would be discussed at length, but it was not likely that the General Assembly would have a unanimous position in the near future.

He replied to a further question that he did not think the Security Council would discuss the Panel’s report. It was most probably the General Assembly that would discuss the recommendations, ultimately, at the level of heads of State and government. The Panel had come up with five very interesting criteria, to which he would certainly devote attention, but he did not yet know if those guidelines were fully acceptable to his country. His initial reaction was that the Panel had done a very interesting job by advancing guidelines to the Council for its consideration, and had made a clear request to that body to endorse them, if possible. So, the Council might envisage considering the matter later on.

To a question on the timing of elections in Iraq, he said that the Iraqi Government had decided that the elections would take place at the end of January. He had no comment. What was important, he added, was that the election took place in conditions that allowed the Iraqi people to participate in the most inclusive way. He hoped that conditions of security and participation would be met by the end of January, so that elections could take place under the most optimal conditions.

Asked for Algeria’s view of the proposal for the elimination of the Military Staff Committee, he said it was really too early to pass any final judgement. He would not, however, have any problem with the elimination of the Military Staff Committee. Whatever had not functioned in the Charter, and that applied to the Trusteeship Council and to the Military Staff Committee, perhaps should be deleted from the Charter.

Would Algeria support Secretary-General Kofi Annan, or favour his resignation? another correspondent asked. Mr. Baali said, in fact, that there was no discussion among Member States on whether or not the Secretary-General should stay or resign. That debate had been taking place outside the United Nations and in the media. As far as Algeria was concerned, it and other United Nations Member States had elected the Secretary-General and his mandate ended in December 2006.

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