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

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

15 July 2002

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Hua Jiang, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Secretary-General’s Trip

The Secretary-General is back in New York today, having returned late Saturday after meeting Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, earlier that day.

The Secretary-General told reporters after the breakfast meeting that he and the President had discussed conflicts around Africa, AIDS, the African Union, regional issues, including those of the Economic Community of West African States, and the Nigerian-UN relationship.

He also commented on the passage by the Security Council on Friday evening of a resolution requesting the new International Criminal Court not to prosecute or investigate a case involving the personnel of UN-established or UN-authorized operations who are from nations that are not party to the Criminal Court’s Statute, for a 12-month period beginning this past July 1.

He said that the members of the Security Council had been concerned about coming up with a solution that would respect the UN Charter and the Court’s Statute and reaffirm the authority of the Council, and he added, “I think they managed to do just that.”

He said the resolution “resolves the conflict in the sense that the Americans themselves backed away from the blanket immunity they were asking for American soldiers and American personnel”, and added that it took away a potential conflict that could have ended the UN peacekeeping operation in Bosnia, and possibly other locations.

We have the transcript of his comments to the Abuja press, and we also put out on Friday a statement expressing the Secretary-General’s gratification that the Council was able to resolve the difficult decision it faced unanimously.

The Secretary-General, in his comments to the press, also noted the fighting in Liberia, and said, about the possibility of lifting sanctions on Liberia, I quote: “I am not sure that the solution to the crisis in Liberia is necessarily more weapons to continue the war.” He urged the parties to come together to discuss their differences, and said he would do his best to work with them to find a solution.

**Quartet Meeting

Tomorrow, the four parties dealing with the Middle East, known as the “Quartet”, will meet here in New York at its senior level, with the Secretary-General representing the United Nations. The other members of the Quartet will be

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and the European Union Commissioner dealing with foreign policy, Javier Solana.

The four of them are scheduled to meet at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, starting at 11:30 a.m., for a discussion of recent developments in the Middle East. We have heard that there might be a press availability once that session concludes, but you might want to check with the US Mission about opportunities for the press at the Waldorf.

Then, at around 5:30 p.m. at the Secretary-General’s residence, the Secretary-General will host a meeting of the Quartet with the Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers and the Saudi Permanent Representative to the UN, followed by a dinner.

We are trying to work out arrangements for a possible press encounter following the meeting at the residence, and we’ll let you know the details as soon as we have them.

**Security Council

There are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.

The Council cleared up its schedule for Monday a bit early, since, as I have just mentioned, it voted unanimously on Friday evening on the resolution deferring ICC action for a 12-month period.

Immediately after that resolution was approved, the Security Council approved extensions in the mandates of two UN missions, whose previous mandates were to expire at the end of today.

First, it unanimously extended the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina until the end of this year. Then, it unanimously extended the UN Mission of Observers in Prevlaka by three months, until 15 October.

The Security Council will hold consultations tomorrow morning on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on Burundi, and expects to be briefed by the Secretariat on both topics.

**Statement Attributable to Spokesman for Secretary-General

The following is a statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General:

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns Saturday’s massacre in southern Kashmir, in which dozens of people, many of them women and children, were killed. He offers his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the victims. This indiscriminate act of terrorism is a transparent attempt to heighten tensions in the region. The Secretary-General continues to call on India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and encourage them to resolve their differences, including over Kashmir, by peaceful means.”

**Afghanistan

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in town and will be briefing the Security Council later this week.

In Kabul yesterday, the Deputy Special Representative, Nigel Fischer, briefed the press on the recent Afghan Support Group meeting in Geneva. He said that $777 million is still needed for the reconstruction on Afghanistan, of which $397 million is needed urgently.

He outlined the four priorities that were identified for the Support Group by the Afghan Minister of Finance, Ashraf Ghany. They are security, civil service reform, the underfunding of the budget, and the ongoing humanitarian assistance and reconstruction of the social sector.

We have the full text of the briefing available for you upstairs.

**Human Rights

High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has approved, on the Secretary-General’s behalf, grants amounting to some $7.8 million to go to organizations that support survivors of torture.

The Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture recommended these grants at its latest session, held in Geneva in May. It allocated grants to some 200 organizations working in more than 60 countries, to assist about 80,000 victims of torture and members of their families.

We have more details in a press release upstairs.

**ESCWA

The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) will hold a three-day forum on how new technologies can create decent work opportunities and alleviate poverty in Arab countries, beginning tomorrow in Beirut.

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri will deliver a keynote address to the forum, which will focus, in particular, on the contributions that information and communication technologies can make for job creation. We have more details again in a press release from Beirut.

That’s all I have for you. Any questions?

All right, have a very good afternoon.

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