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

3 December 2002

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Richard Sydenham, Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by Spokesman for the Secretary-General

**Iraq Inspections

Good afternoon. Today, teams from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted an unannounced joint inspection of one of the eight presidential sites, the Sijood site, located on the west bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad. This was the first inspection of a presidential site since the return of the inspectors to Iraq and was carried out pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolution 1441 (2002).

The inspection team was able to enter the site within a few minutes. The site was frozen during the inspection in order to avoid any exit. However, senior Iraqi officials were allowed to enter. When the inspection was completed, the freeze was lifted. Access to the entire site was provided without difficulty and the planned inspection activity was completed.

An UNMOVIC team yesterday visited the Waziriyah site of the al Karama General Company, on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, one of Iraq's principal missile development sites. It was able to carry out planned inspection tasks and found that pieces of equipment and monitoring cameras put in place by the United Nations, which had been at the site in 1998, were no longer there. It was claimed that some equipment had been destroyed by the bombing of the site, and some had been transferred elsewhere. An IAEA inspection team went yesterday to three small industrial sites, two of which had never been visited before, which proved to be dedicated to the production of alcohol.

**Secretary-General Press Encounter

Upon entering the Building this morning, the Secretary-General took a few questions from reporters, and was asked about the inspection of an Iraqi presidential site by United Nations inspectors today. He responded that today’s events were an indication that the inspectors are “using their new authority effectively”, and added that it was “a good indication” that the Iraqis were cooperating.

But he added, “This is only a beginning.” He told reporters that cooperation seems to be good, but “this is not a one-week wonder”. The Secretary-General added that he will wait for the inspectors to analyse their data and brief the Security Council. Asked about the “oil-for-food” programme, the current extension of which expires tomorrow, he said, “I hope nothing will be done to jeopardize the interests of the population that we seek to help.”

The Secretary-General also discussed his dream for Cyprus, saying he wanted to see a united Cyprus admitted to the European Union and prospering as one nation. “I hope the two leaders will seize the opportunity”, he said, “and bring peace and stability to the island, and make history.” He was asked about the short amount of time between now and the 12 December European Union summit, and he responded, “We do have time to come to an agreement.” We have the full transcript of his comments upstairs.

**Secretary-General in Washington

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon in Washington, the Secretary-General met with a group of scholars from the Woodrow Wilson Center for an informal discussion on a number of issues, including nuclear non-proliferation, water, the study of cold war archives and globalization -– quite a menu.

Prior to the discussion, the Secretary-General briefly addressed some 60 fellows and staff of the Center. In his comments, he said the Center is a living memorial to the vision of Woodrow Wilson, who did, perhaps, more than any other American to inspire the idea of the United Nations. "As members of the Center", he added, “you are also carrying forward the belief that a world of laws and a world of order based on multinational cooperation is a world where all States pursue their aims in peace.”

In the evening, the Secretary-General was the keynote speaker at the 100th anniversary dinner of the Pan American Health Organization, known as PAHO. And we flagged that speech for you yesterday. It's now available upstairs and it's also on our Web site.

**Iraq ?Oil-for-Food’ Programme

The Office of the Iraq Programme reports that in the week that ended last Friday, Iraqi oil exports averaged 1.7 million barrels per day, for a total of 11.9 million barrels in the week that ended 29 November. That's down from the previous week’s high of 17.1 million barrels. The week’s exports generated an estimated $258 million in revenue, at current prices and rates of exchange. And we have the full report for you upstairs.


The following statement is attributable to the Spokesman on the subject of Burundi:

“At the 19th Summit of the Regional Initiative, which was held on 1 and 2 December in Arusha, Tanzania, the Transitional Government of Burundi and the main armed rebel group the Conseil national pour la défence de la démocratie-Forces pour la défence de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) concluded a cease-fire agreement. The agreement constitutes an important and positive development in the search for a comprehensive peace in Burundi.

"The Secretary-General welcomes this very important step ahead and commends the efforts of the Regional Initiative and the facilitation led by Deputy President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in helping the Burundi parties reach this agreement. He encourages the parties to abide by their commitments and implement the agreement fully. The United Nations will continue to support the efforts of the Burundi parties to implement the Arusha Agreement through its office in Burundi and its chairmanship of the Implementation Monitoring Committee."

That’s the end of the statement. Jacob Zuma is scheduled to be here to brief the Security Council tomorrow on this subject. And the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi, Berhanu Dinka, is also expected to be here.

**Security Council

The Security Council is holding consultations this morning on its programme of work for December, on a draft resolution concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on the extension of the “oil-for-food” programme for Iraq. After morning consultations end, and that's expected to be around 1 o'clock, the Council President, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, is scheduled to brief you here about the programme of work for December.

Then at 3 this afternoon, World Food Programme Executive Director James Morris is scheduled to address the Council in an open briefing on Africa’s food crisis as a threat to peace and security. Mr. Morris is expected to issue a global alert, focusing on the food crisis in Africa in particular, where 38 million people are threatened. He will also deliver a stark warning about the unprecedented scale of starvation around the world.

In attendance as observers in consultations this morning were the five new members to join the Security Council in 2003: Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain. Available upstairs is an updated list of Security Council members effective 1 January.

**Sierra Leone Special Court

Yesterday afternoon in Freetown, Sierra Leone, eight judges were sworn in to serve on the newly established Special Court for Sierra Leone. After the judges were sworn in by the Court’s registrar, Robin Vincent, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone, Behrooz Sadry, told them that, in discharging their responsibilities, they were offering hope to future generations that “no more may deeds which offend the conscience of mankind go unpunished”. We have a press release on that.

**Nigeria-Cameroon Border Commission

The first meeting held yesterday in Yaoundé, Cameroon, of the Cameroon-Nigeria mixed commission, chaired by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, included the release of a joint communiqué. The commission, set up to consider ways of following up on the 10 October ruling by the International Court of Justice, agreed to set up a subcommission on demarcation of the land boundary between the two countries and to consider the assignment of UN military liaison officers in both countries at a later date.

The commission also agreed to meet on the first Tuesday of the month every two months. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Abuja, Nigeria, starting on 4 February. We have the communiqué available in English and French.


Last night in Sarajevo, the Sarajevo Haggadah, a sacred Jewish document dating back to 14th century, whose description of human history stretches from the beginning of the universe to the death of Moses, was unveiled in a public setting for the first time, at the inauguration of a vault room in Sarejevo’s National Museum.

“Tonight, the odyssey of the Sarajevo Haggadah has come to an end”, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jacques Klein, said, in a speech that we have upstairs. He said “It is home. It is safe.”

A variety of organizations, including the United Nations Trust Fund, the World Bank, and many governments and charitable foundations, helped to bring about the construction of a room at the National Museum for the Haggadah. Mr. Klein said their efforts show that “the survival of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with its precious heritage of cultural and religious harmony, is possible”.

**UNHCR on Côte d'Ivoire

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, warned of a looming humanitarian crisis today, calling on West African countries to keep their borders open to innocent civilians caught in intensified fighting in Côte d'Ivoire. The UNHCR has issued an urgent appeal for $6.1 million to respond to emergencies in Côte d'Ivoire and neighbouring countries for the next three months.

**UNFPA on World Population

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today launched its State of the World Population 2002 report titled “People, Poverty and Possibilities: Making Development Work for the Poor”. The report says that, despite strides towards gender equality, more women still live in poverty than men. The disparity is attributed to gender inequalities in all areas of life, from access to social and legal institutions, resources and employment, to social and political participation.

The report says the effects of inequality are felt most in the poorest countries, whereas those which have taken steps to reduce the gender gap and improve women’s participation in society have had more success in reducing poverty. We have a few more copies of the report upstairs and it's also available on the UNFPA Web site. We have a press release with more information.

**Lecture on Climate Change

This afternoon at 1:30 in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, the third lecture in the Secretary-General’s lecture series will begin, with Professors Rajendra Pachauri and Nebojsa Nakicenovic discussing the interface between energy and climate change.

The Secretary-General will host a luncheon for the two guest speakers. He will also introduce them at the start of the 1:30 p.m. lecture, at which he is expected to say that we have no time to lose if we are to learn to use energy differently, and to use different energy sources. We have embargoed copies of his remarks upstairs.

**Day of Disabled Persons

Today is the International Day of Disabled Persons and the theme of this year’s observance is “Independent Living and Sustainable Livelihoods”. In his message, the Secretary-General said the commitment to full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in economic and social development is deeply rooted in the principles of the United Nations and was reflected in the Millennium Declaration and the outcomes of major conferences. He called for the renewal of the pledge “to build a society in which persons with disabilities are seen not only as beneficiaries of society’s support, but as an empowered and empowering source of social, cultural, political and economic development”.

The full text of the message has been issued as a press release. And we also have the message of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and a press release from the World Health Organization on the impact of community-based rehabilitation programmes.

**Other Press Releases from WFP and UNICEF

In other press releases out today, the World Food Programme (WFP) is urging the international community to support a new $201 million emergency operation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The operation aims to provide food aid to 6.4 million of the most vulnerable people in this year, 2002. A better cereal harvest this year has lowered the food gap from 1.3 million metric tonnes to 1.1 million metric tonnes, but the WFP still requires more than 500,000 metric tonnes of food aid.

In a second press release, the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, announced a new campaign to increase the rate of school attendance for girls in 25 priority countries. Executive Director Carol Bellamy made the announcement at a meeting of education ministers in Dar es Salaam in the United Republic of Tanzania, where she said “no girl would be left behind as her country attempts to move forward”.

**Press Conferences

Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., Ambassador Djessan Philippe Djangone-Bi of Côte d'Ivoire will brief you on the situation in his country. A press conference this afternoon I've already mentioned. About 1 o'clock, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso.

**World Chronicle

The World Chronicle series will feature today, number 882 with Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. And that will be aired at 3:30 p.m., on in-house channels 3 and 31.


And a final United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) announcement for you, for those of you who want to run for the UNCA Executive Committee –- let's see it, hands up -- nominations will close today at 5 p.m. So you have another four-and-a-half hours. And for details, please check the UNCA bulletin board next to the UNCA Club.


I have an addition here. Consultations of the Security Council have adjourned. Adjourned at 12:15 p.m. Any questions before we go to Richard?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Did you say Pakistan is one of the new members joining the Council?

Spokesman: I mentioned the five. Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain are the five new members for 2003.

Question: With regard to extending the Iraq oil-for-food programme, did the Security Council wish to have an agreement?

Spokesman: You'll have to check with the Council President when he comes out as to the status of their discussions on the oil-for-food programme. I don't have anything on that to give you.

Question: Can you confirm that the Secretary-General will meet tomorrow with Mr. Denktash (on Cyprus)?

Spokesman: That would surprise me. I hadn’t heard that, but I'll have to check for you.

Question: Do you expect their answers today or tomorrow?

Spokesman: We have not received responses from either side as of today. The clock is ticking. We're hopeful that we will get responses from both sides in the very near future.

Question: The Secretary-General didn't want to say anything about what will happen after 12 December. We have plenty of statements by the parties that the time "did" run out. I wonder if the Secretary-General's refusal to say what will happen after the twelfth means it's the end of the road.

Spokesman: So you're predicting a disaster and the Secretary-General clearly contradicted you, saying we still have time to get an agreement. So, asking him to speculate about what will happen after the twelfth if we don't get an agreement, when he is very hopeful that we will have one, doesn't make much sense. So, I think that's why you got the reaction you got.

Question: Do you have anything on a meeting of Hans Blix with the Secretary-General this afternoon?

Spokesman: No. They spoke by telephone this morning before the Secretary-General left Washington. You have his programme for today. I haven't looked carefully at it. I don't know if Mr. Blix is on the programme. Check the programme. If he's not on it and he's been added, we'll squawk it. We squawk all additions to the programme.

Question: Can you detail for us the exact format of the declaration that's expected from Iraq on Saturday? And whom it will be relayed to?

Spokesman: I can't give you any of those details. They'll have to come from UNMOVIC. I frankly don't know, because I spoke to Mr. Blix about this last night, whether they know anything specific at this time. You saw the Secretary-General's comment this morning, that the deadline is 8 December. We've seen press reports that the declaration might be provided on 7 December, but we have no official information on that.

Question: Hard copy?

Spokesman: Hard copy, CD-rom, we just don't know.

Question: For all those interested, I have UNCA nomination forms.

Spokesman: Okay, Patricia has the forms.

Question: There seems to be great confusion about when the ceasefire will start in Burundi. The Government says about 72 hours, somebody says the end of December and the communiqué says immediately. What is the understanding of the United Nations?

Spokesman: I can’t answer that question. We'll have to ask the Burundi experts afterwards to see if we can get an answer for you, to clarify whatever confusion there might be.

Question: Yesterday you mentioned that the United Nations plan for Cyprus might be revised. Does that imply that the Secretary-General will submit a revised version?

Spokesman: The first step is for the two sides to comment substantively on the current document. Once the comments are in from both sides, we will analyse the changes they would like to make and we will most likely then communicate with the two sides sequentially, back and forth, some kind of shuttle. I'm not sure how it will work, but we'll try to reduce the differences and get agreement on a single text. That's the basic idea.

Question: Does the Secretary-General intend to visit Cyprus in the next days?

Spokesman: At the moment, he does not. Alvaro de Soto, his special envoy, is in Cyprus, prepared to do the legwork once the reactions are in.

Question: Does it appear to you, Fred, that some parts of the United Nations plan do not agree with European fundamentals?

Spokesman: The plan is on the table, we're waiting for the two sides to react. And that's where we are. I don't think I want to comment on what the plan agrees with or doesn't agree with regard to European standards.

Question: Fred, a while ago you said I was predicting disaster, and I wonder if it'll be disaster if by 12 December there is not an agreement on Cyprus.

Spokesman: No. I mean, we’ve been trying for 28 years. If it doesn't happen on 12 December, we'll keep plugging away at it. But what we're saying is that now is a great opportunity, probably the best opportunity in 28 years. Let's seize it. We're hoping that the two leaders will seize this opportunity to close their differences and agree on a single State to enter the European Union.

Question: Give us the scenario if one of the two leaders gives a negative answer.

Spokesman: Let's not anticipate negative outcomes. We're in a positive mode here. We do expect both sides to respond in the next day or two. And then the hard work will begin on negotiating a final text.

Question: The Secretary-General will be involved in the final stage of negotiations before the twelfth?

Spokesman: I don't rule that out, but, as I indicated, Alvaro de Soto is in place ready to lead the negotiations, and we'll see what role, if any, might be required after that for the Secretary-General. Okay. Richard

Briefing by Spokesman for Assembly President

Good afternoon.

In his message today on the International Day of Disabled Persons, President Kavan says, “The United Nations system has played a powerful catalytic role. Firstly, to place this issue on the world agenda more than a generation ago and secondly, through regular monitoring and reporting of the progress achieved at national and international levels. The United Nations General Assembly also created a United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability.”

President Kavan’s message goes on to say that, “At this critical juncture, it is imperative that relevant governmental and regional institutions focus on the issue of sustainable livelihood and independent living through infrastructure for education, training, capacity building, rehabilitation, medical and social services, safety nets and promotion of employment opportunities. Information and communication technologies could be important facilitators, provided the tools and equipment are made available. Through initiatives that support the access by disabled persons to such mechanisms, I believe we may move towards the goal of a ?Society for all’ by the year 2010, as endorsed by the Assembly in its resolution 45/91.” The message has been issued as a press release and may be accessed on the President’s Web site.

The General Assembly plenary, this morning, continued debate on the situation in the Middle East. At the end of this morning’s meeting, the plenary will take, and I think has already taken action, on four draft resolutions on the Question of Palestine, draft resolutions A/57/L.34 to A/57/L.37. Then it will take action on draft resolutions A/57/L.44 on Jerusalem and A/57/L.45 on the Syrian Golan, under the agenda item, the "situation in the Middle East".

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) is in informal consultations this afternoon. And the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon will consider the programme budget for 2002-2003 and will take action on the Capital Master plan, which is in document A/C.5/57/L.29.

Looking ahead to Wednesday morning, the plenary discusses agenda item 23, "marking the end of the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage" and other items. And before the morning plenary, the General Committee of the General Assembly will take up the request by the Philippines for the inclusion of an additional item on the agenda of the fifty-seventh session, International Year of Rice, 2004. Any questions? Thank you.

Secretary-General's Spokesman

I'm told Ambassador Valdivieso is on his way here now, because consultations have adjourned. So, if you'd like to wait just a second, and any of you upstairs watching on TV, if you want to ask a question, come on down now.

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