DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
11 November 2002
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Richard Sydenham, Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by Associate Spokesman
Good afternoon. Pardon us for being a little bit late.
We'll start off with a statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, concerning the events in Israel yesterday:
"The Secretary-General is appalled by the attack on Kibbutz Metzer in Israel yesterday in which five people were killed, including two children. The Secretary-General reiterates in the strongest possible terms his utter condemnation of all terrorist attacks against civilians and calls once again on all Palestinian groups to stop immediately all such acts of violence.
"The Secretary-General remains very concerned at the broader issue of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including both terrorist acts and the ongoing policy of extra-judicial killings. Copies of the statement are available upstairs."
Earlier today, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, also issued a statement on the attack. He called the attack a "murderous act which is both morally and ethically unacceptable". And we have Mr. Larsen's statement available upstairs as well.
The Security Council will be meeting this afternoon at 3:15, in closed consultations on Cyprus, and the Secretary-General is expected to brief members of the Council at that time.
Turning back to Friday: following consultations on the Central African Republic, Friday afternoon, the Security Council issued a statement to the press condemning the recent attempt to seize power by force, and urging the prompt deployment of an international force to that country. Also in terms of the Council, later Friday afternoon, China, France and Russia transmitted to the Council President a joint statement relating to Council resolution 1441 (2002). And that statement should be available upstairs as a public document.
**Secretary-General in Washington
I'd like to announce the Secretary-General's upcoming trip to Washington. He will leave for Washington, D.C., tomorrow afternoon to attend the UN Association of the United States International Visionaries Award Dinner, where he will be honoured and he's expected to make remarks. On Wednesday, he will travel to the University of Maryland to deliver the annual Anwar Al Sadat Memorial lecture. His speech will focus on the current state of peace efforts in the Middle East. He will also receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland.
He will take advantage of his presence in Washington to meet with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday afternoon before the UNA/USA dinner, and he will then meet with President George W. Bush on Wednesday afternoon before returning back to New York.
**Democratic Republic of the Congo
Some notes from the missions. The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo informs us that yesterday it repatriated voluntarily to Kigali 114 Rwandans (55 ex-combatants and 59 dependents) who had been stationed at Kamina south east of the Democratic Republic. Upon arrival, the repatriated Rwandans will spend a few days at a Demobilization Centre before being reunited with their families and reintegrated into civilian life. A press release from the mission is available upstairs.
On Afghanistan, the reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat Road began yesterday. The United Nations Assistance Mission in that country welcomed the inauguration of the project and said that major reconstruction projects like this were essential for the country, as they provided job opportunities and promoted national integration as well as economic and social development in rural and urban areas. The Kabul-Kandahar-Herat road is a project financed by the Governments of Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Couple of reports out on the racks. The Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, known as MINUGUA, is out today. The report recommends a renewal of the mandate of the mission through 31 December 2003. The Secretary-General says the Mission has already begun a transition programme that will intensify in 2003, and adds that there is no guarantee that the Guatemalan sectors involved in the transition will be strong enough to assume their additional responsibilities before the planned departure of MINUGUA. The Government of Guatemala has requested an extension of that Mission until 2004.
Also out on the racks today is a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor, known as UNMISET. The report reviews the first five months of the mission and says that commitments made between the Governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste, if realized, will allow UNMISET to keep to its schedule for reduction and withdrawal.
“The progress that has taken place in the country”, the Secretary-General writes, “offers great promise”. He urges the Security Council and the international community to remain engaged and build on contributions made so far to bring the promise to its full realization.
**Human Rights in Côte d'Ivoire
On human rights in Côte d'Ivoire, on Friday evening, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, issued a statement expressing his concern at the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Côte d'Ivoire, as shown in the increase in summary executions, arbitrary detention, kidnapping and torture in that country. Vieira de Mello recalled that in his letter to President Laurent Gbagbo on October 15, he stated that it was the Government's responsibility to put a stop to those guilty of these grave violations. De Mello added that a number of these violations could lead to international judicial investigations.
The High Commissioner also calls on the Government of Côte d'Ivoire to immediately open an independent and in-depth investigation, and urges all the parties in the current conflict to put an end to violence and to re-establish a climate of national reconciliation. The full statement from Mr. de Mello is available upstairs.
Today in Geneva, a two-week review session of the Biological Weapons Convention opened. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, who is there, told reporters that a proposal before the session, which suggests the establishment of a mechanism to monitor compliance with the Convention, represents a modest achievement, and should be adopted. He said that what mattered now was that for all sides to focus on further progress, rather than “crying over spilt milk because of the lack of consensus thus far.
The session’s chairman, Ambassador Tibor Toth of Hungary, said the two-week meeting would not focus on reaching agreement on a final declaration, but rather would try to achieve consensus on a paper that would allow work to continue on topics like biosecurity and assistance to countries dealing with man-made diseases. We have more information on that meeting available upstairs.
**Other Press Releases
A few press releases to flag for you. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced a new project to halt the spread of desertification and to heal the lands on the margins of the African desert. The newly replenished Global Environment Facility will provide more than $16 million of the $50 million project which will look into the key causes of land degradation and damage in areas from the Sudano-Sahelian Zone of Senegal to the Acacia Savanna in Zimbabwe, and draw up an action plan for recovery. The rest of the funding will be provided by governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other international institutions.
The World Chronicle programme, and that would be number 873, with Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), will be shown today at 3:30 p.m. on in-house channels three or 31.
Lastly, a press conference tomorrow. Jean Ziegler, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, will be here to brief you on his work. Any questions?
**Questions and Answers
Question: I understand a plan was given by the Secretary-General to the (Cyprus) parties today?
Associate Spokesman: Earlier today in Nicosia, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, met with the Greek Cypriot leader, Glafcos Clerides. During that meeting, what De Soto conveyed reflects the deliberations of the Secretary-General on Cyprus. At the same time, here in New York, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, met with a representative of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to pass on the same information. We do expect a statement on Cyprus, with more information for you, once the Security Council deliberations have finished.
Question: If it's not a plan, then what can we call it? Ideas?
Associate Spokesman: Until three o'clock or until we get a statement, you can say that what was conveyed to both the Greek Cypriot leader and to the representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader, was the results of the Secretary-General's deliberations on Cyprus.
Question: This statement to which you refer, is it a statement by the Secretary-General?
Associate Spokesman: It'll be a statement by our office, by the Secretary-General, giving you more information on what you are all asking about and which I'm not answering.
Question: Will the President of the Security Council make a statement?
Associate Spokesman: That's up to him. I think we'll have to wait until the consultations are over.
Question: Is there any time period to start and complete the negotiations on Cyprus?
Associate Spokesman: I don't want to go into any detail until the Secretary-General's had a chance to brief the Security Council, and then we'll be more than happy to answer all of your questions.
Briefing by the Spokesman for the General Assembly President
Good afternoon. This morning, the General Assembly plenary heard the statement of Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and then commenced discussion of the IAEA report for the year 2001. Some 21 Member States are inscribed to speak and Mr. ElBaradei’s statement is available on the third floor at the documents counter.
The plenary this afternoon is expected to continue discussion on this item and it's expected to take a decision on draft resolutions A/57/L.17 and L.14, also on this item. The Assembly will then take up discussion of items on the Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation in Central America and the South American zone of peace and cooperation.
The Special Political and Decolonization committee holds a general debate on the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) holds informals this morning, and this afternoon holds a panel discussion on “Cooperation in Taxation Matters”. This Panel will be chaired by the Chairman of the Second Committee, Marco Antonio Suazo, and will focus on the role of international cooperation in tax matters. After the conclusion of the panel discussion the Committee will take up macroeconomic policy question: trade and development.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continues general discussion on human rights questions, and this afternoon will hold a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) discusses the UN common system, UN pension system and the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003. Tomorrow, the Assembly plenary will discuss agenda item 26: The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba. Report of the Secretary-General and draft resolution A/57/L.5. Any questions? Thank you.
Question: What kind of statement did Mr. ElBaradei deliver?
Associate Spokesman: He was delivering the report for the Agency,
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