DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
13 November 2002
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Hua Jiang, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Richard Sydenham, Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General
**Security Council and Iraq
Some of you may have already heard that the Security Council President, Ambassador Zhang Yishan of China, told reporters a short while ago that he had spoken to the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Al-Douri.
According to Ambassador Zhang, the Iraqi ambassador said that Iraq has decided to accept Security Council resolution 1441 and it welcomes inspectors to go back to Iraq.
The Chinese ambassador said he informed the other members of the Council, who welcomed the “correct” decision. He added that the Council members would like to see that resolution 1441 be implemented fully and effectively.
He said the Council was now waiting for the Iraqi letter to the Secretary-General. In response to a question, he said only after reading the letter could the Security Council have a full picture of the response from the Government.
**Security Council and Democratic Republic of Congo
The Security Council is holding consultations today on the most recent report on illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Security Council Sanctions Committee on Sierra Leone has scheduled a meeting for 3 p.m. today.
**Secretary-General in Maryland
The Secretary-General is at the University of Maryland right now, where he is shortly to deliver the Anwar Sadat Memorial Lecture, and is expected to say that the courage, vision and leadership that Sadat showed are badly needed, but sadly lacking, in the Middle East today. He is also to emphasize that the main lines of a lasting peace in the Middle East are clear, but hope and trust must be restored among the Israelis and Palestinians.
We have embargoed copies of his lecture upstairs. (See also Press Release SG/SM/8491.)
While at the University, the Secretary-General is also to receive an honorary doctorate degree.
**Secretary-General in Washington
The Secretary-General will then head back to Washington, where he is scheduled this afternoon to meet for about half an hour with President George W. Bush at the White House, before he returns to New York –- where he is expected to conduct some work at Headquarters in the late afternoon.
Yesterday afternoon, upon his arrival in Washington, the Secretary-General met with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell -- first on a one-on-one basis for 15 minutes, and then with delegations.
Afterwards, the two men addressed the press. Asked whether Iraq is getting imports that it shouldn’t, due to loopholes in the “oil-for-food” programme, the Secretary-General replied, “It is not excluded that there may be items which are of civilian use but may have other uses that may get through, but we try to ensure that any items that could be put to military use and are of military importance are kept out of the list.”
We have copies of the transcript of that briefing upstairs.
**International Visionaries Award
The Secretary-General had travelled to Washington to accept the International Visionaries Award offered by the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA) and the Business Council for the United Nations, which he received at a dinner last night.
He was introduced by Secretary of State Powell, who said of the Secretary-General, “He works with the high and mighty but never forgets the least of God’s children.”
In accepting the Award, the Secretary-General said the world has rarely needed the United Nations as much as it does today. He welcomed the unanimous Security Council resolution for the return of the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq, but he added that the broader effort against terrorism was just as important a cause.
He added, “Just as terrorism must never be excused, so must genuine grievances never be ignored. Otherwise, we risk losing that most central of wars –- the war for the hearts and minds of mankind.”
We put out copies of his remarks yesterday (see Press Release SG/SM/8488), and we also have upstairs a revised provisional programme for the trip to Europe that the Secretary-General will begin tomorrow, when he leaves for Geneva where on Friday he will meet with the Presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon.
**Statement on Trade
Following is a statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General (issued as Press Release SG/SM/8489):
"The Secretary-General believes that trade can make an important contribution to development. He is, therefore, concerned about the continuing difficulties faced by developing countries in competing in world markets.
"At their meeting in Doha last year, World Trade Organization (WTO) ministers acknowledged that trading rules regulating intellectual property must not act as a barrier to the promotion and protection of public health. Accordingly, they instructed the WTO Council for TRIPs (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) to find, before the end of 2002, a solution that gives developing countries with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector real flexibility to confront their public health problems.
"That deadline is imminent. The Secretary-General strongly urges the Trade Ministers meeting in Sydney to propose, without delay, a long-term solution that will deliver affordable medicines and vaccinations to the millions of people suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other deadly diseases. He regards this as both a moral imperative and an economic and social necessity."
The Secretary-General gave a message (delivered by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hedi Annabi) to the meeting of the Sierra Leone Consultative Group in Paris today.
He says that, at this critical juncture, Sierra Leone needs the continued support of the international community to consolidate the peace and stability that have prevailed since the end of the long conflict and the holding of national elections earlier this year.
He also briefed on the Security Council’s approval of his proposal for a gradual downsizing of the United Nations mission over a period of two years, until 2004, and flagged what he described as a vital area: the reintegration of ex-combatants.
We have copies of this message upstairs (see Press Release SG/SM/8490).
**Rwandan Combatants Repatriated
At the weekly press briefing in Kinshasa, the spokesman for the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced that today a further 120 former Rwandan combatants were to be voluntarily repatriated to their home country from Kamina in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
For more information, you can pick up the Kinshasa briefing notes upstairs.
The United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) today held a memorial service in Timor-Leste for two UN peacekeepers believed to have been killed in last month’s bomb explosion at a Bali nightclub.
Sergeant Marco Antônio Farias of Brazil and Private Diogo Miguel Dantas Ribeirinho of Portugal have been missing since the terrorist incident occurred on 12 October, while they were on holiday from the Mission.
In a ceremony at Dili’s Motael Church, the two soldiers were praised by their colleagues as loyal and dedicated soldiers, and thoughtful and helpful friends.
Francis Deng, the Secretary-General’s Representative on Internally Displaced Persons, today concluded his weeklong visit to the Philippines, during which he visited the island of Mindanao, where displacement has been largely concentrated. He underscored that the root causes of the displacement in Mindanao are inherently linked to the status of development and governance in the region, but also drew attention to the need to move the peace process forward.
Mr. Deng issued a statement upon the conclusion of his visit, which is available upstairs.
In Milan, Italy, today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, highlighted the worsening situation of displaced people in Colombia and Colombian refugees in other countries. More than 200,000 people have fled their homes this year alone and there are some 2 million people displaced by decades of conflict.
Mr. Lubbers announced the agency would need over $10 million to finance its operations in South America, with $5.6 million being earmarked for Colombia.
**Other Press Releases
We have one more press release to highlight for you today. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today launched the 2002 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. The report says that although 83 countries are set to achieve the targets of Education for All by 2015 set in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000, more than 70 countries will not reach the target and some are even moving backwards.
There will be a briefing on the outcome of the latest conference of the parties and the state of the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by Joke Waller-Hunter, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, today at 2 p.m. at the 9th floor boardroom (room S-941) in this Building.
World Chronicle programme number 874 with Karl Sauvant, Director of the Division on Investment, UNCTAD, will be shown today at 3:30 p.m. on in-house television channels 3 and 31.
That's all I have for you, any questions?
**Question and Answer
Question: When are you going to release the letter of the Foreign Minister of Iraq to the Secretary-General?
Spokesman: Just before I came down, I was told that the letter has already been transmitted to the Security Council. Once it's in the Security Council, we'll have copies available upstairs in the office for you.
Briefing by the Spokesman for General Assembly President
President Kavan this morning chairs open-ended informal discussions of the plenary on revitalization of the General Assembly, and this afternoon he will chair the plenary which will resume debate on Follow-up to the outcome of the twenty-sixth special session: Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, with 17 speakers inscribed.
The Second Committee starts a general discussion on Environment and sustainable development: Implementation of Agenda 21.
And this afternoon, the Committee holds a panel discussion on the theme, “Integrated follow-up of conferences -– Millennium Summit, Doha, Monterrey, Johannesburg and the Millennium Development Goals”. The panel will be chaired by the chairman of the Second Committee, Marco Antonio Suazo, and will include on the panel Eveline Herfkens, the Secretary-General’s Executive Coordinator of the Millennium Development Goals Campaign.
The Third Committee continues discussion on the report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Tomorrow, the General Assembly plenary discusses the situation in Central America, the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order, and the South American zone of peace and cooperation.
The General Assembly will also hold its fourth open-ended informal consultation, chaired by the President, on strengthening the United Nations system.
Now I would like to brief you about the open-ended panel of the General Assembly on ‘Afghanistan: one year later” to be held next Monday, 18 November, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. As you probably know, the General Assembly took a decision last Monday on a draft resolution submitted by President Kavan after extensive consultation with Member States to hold the panel, which will consist of two consecutive sessions next Monday morning.
In his remarks after adoption of the resolution, President Kavan said he strongly believed that the panel discussion could enrich this year’s activities commemorating the first anniversary of the Bonn Conference and could lead the United Nations to specific conclusions from post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan, thereby providing new recommendations for future UN activities in this domain.
After his extensive consultations with Member countries, he found that the majority of countries considered it very important that this panel should attempt to find out what were the lessons learned by the United Nations in Afghanistan. The panel will give Member States the opportunity to discuss the consequences of the decisions adopted by the UN and to find out if these decisions were implemented properly; and also to specify what results these decisions helped the UN to achieve, and to decide if and how we need to modify our humanitarian activities and economic assistance in Afghanistan. He also feels that we'll clarify what needs to be done so that the UN can achieve its goals in Afghanistan sooner and more effectively.
The panellists for the first political session next Monday will be: Jean Arnaud, Amin Farhang, Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid.
And for the economic session, the second session, the panellists for the second session on economic issues will be: Eric Morris, Julia Taft, Mukesh Kapila and Bernard Frahi.
I will make the list of panellists and topics available in the Spokesman’s Office after the briefing this morning.
Any questions? Thank you.
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