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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

2 May 2005

Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**SG on NPT Review

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has been a cornerstone of global security since it was agreed to 35 years ago, but we cannot afford to be complacent, the Secretary-General told the Review Conference for the Treaty that began this morning in the General Assembly. Developments in recent years have placed the Treaty under great stress, he said.

International regimes, he warned, fail when the gap between promises and performance becomes unbridgeable. As 188 States Parties meet to review the Treaty, he said, their urgent task is to narrow the gap. And the full text of his remarks is available upstairs.

**NPT Review Conference

Also speaking today, was Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He told the Conference that, unless the Non-Proliferation Treaty can evolve to match changing realities, it will fade into irrelevance and leave us vulnerable and unprotected.

Over the course of the month-long Review Conference, he said, the IAEA’s verification authority must be strengthened. ElBaradei said the Conference should acknowledge that the additional protocol, on comprehensive safeguard agreements, is an integral part of the Agency’s safeguards.

He also urged, among other things, that verification efforts must be backed by an effective mechanism for dealing with non-compliance, and that the security concerns of all must be addressed. And we have copies of his speech available upstairs, as well.

**Statement Attributable to Spokesman for Secretary-General

We have a statement on Iraq:

“The Secretary-General is appalled by the wave of bombings and other attacks that have reportedly killed more than 100 Iraqis and wounded twice that many since Friday, in an apparent effort to undermine the newly established Government. He expresses his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims, who reportedly included young children and mourners killed when a car bomb exploded at a funeral.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns this cruel and heartless practice, for which there can be no justification. He is particularly disturbed by reports that the perpetrators of these latest crimes have also prevented ambulances from reaching the victims.

“The Secretary-General hopes these attacks will not deter Iraqi leaders and citizens from continuing to take part in rebuilding their country as it emerges from war and tyranny.”

And we have copies of the speech available upstairs.

**Statement Attributable to Spokesman for Secretary-General

I also have a statement available on Nepal:

“The Secretary-General welcomes the Government of Nepal’s decision to lift the state of emergency over the weekend and to free in the last few weeks several political party leaders and activists. These were measures the Secretary-General had urged during his meeting with King Gyanendra of Nepal in Jakarta, that took place on 21 April.

“While welcoming these initial positive steps, the Secretary-General remains concerned about the human rights situation in Nepal. He urges the release of all those still detained under the emergency provisions, as well as the early restoration of civil liberties and multi-party democracy in that country. He remains ready to assist in any manner that would lead to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Nepal.”

**Security Council

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

As of yesterday, Denmark assumed the Council Presidency for the month of May.

Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Loj is holding bilateral meetings today on the Council's programme of work for this month, and she will brief you tomorrow afternoon following consultations.

**Georgia

Turning to Georgia, the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Abkhazia, is out on the racks today. In it, he notes that, since his previous report, he has been encouraged by signals from both the Georgian and Abkhaz sides of their interest in settling their conflict by peaceful means only. That willingness to resume participation in the negotiation process -- after a prolonged suspension -- is a welcome development, and may usher in a period of renewed possibilities for progress.

**Somalia

Also on Somalia, the Secretary-General has informed the Security Council, in a letter, of his intention to appoint François Lonseny Fall of Guinea as his Special Representative for Somalia. The exchange of letters on the appointment between the Secretary-General and the Council are expected to be made public today.

**Togo

On Togo, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says that the number of refugees fleeing post-election insecurity in Togo continues to climb steadily, reaching some 16,000 in neighbouring Benin and Ghana. And this is up from 11,500 on Saturday. We have a press release from UNHCR available upstairs.

**Cambodia

Also, on Friday we informed you that the legal requirements for the entry into force of an agreement between the United Nations and the Cambodian Government concerning the Khmer Rouge trials have now been complied with, we reported in a press release put out late Friday. Sufficient pledges are now in place to fund the staffing of the Extraordinary Chambers for those trials for a sustained period of time. Consequently, the agreement entered into force on 29 April.

The Secretary-General reaffirms that the United Nations looks forward to the expeditious implementation of the agreement, and no efforts will be spared on his part to help ensure that the Chambers and related institutions are established as soon as possible and begin to function promptly.

**Jewish Groups

A couple of items to flag to you, this afternoon, the Secretary-General will meet with fifty Jewish leaders from some 24 countries around the world. The delegates from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America, and Australia will participate in a series of discussions with UN officials about Anti-Semitism, Human Rights and Genocide Prevention, the Middle East Peace Process, as well as UN Reform.

His address to the group will be televised on UN television beginning at 4:30 this afternoon. This meeting follows the conference organized by the UN last year on anti-Semitism, as well the General Assembly’s Session on the liberation of the death camps earlier this year.

**UN Reform

Also on UN reform, the thematic informal consultations of the General Assembly on the Secretary-General’s “In Larger Freedom” report are close to completion.

The Secretary-General is pleased with the active participation of the membership. The Member States are continuing to work together under the leadership of the General Assembly President, Jean Ping, to tackle the agenda laid out by the Secretary-General in his report. The Secretary-General is confident that world leaders will be able to take far-reaching decisions at the September summit, and he looks forward to assisting in the process in the upcoming weeks and months.

**UNICEF

As you know, Ann Veneman, the former US Secretary of Agriculture, assumed leadership of UNICEF today, becoming the fifth Executive Director to lead the UN children’s agency in its 60-year history. Veneman said that among her top priorities will be ensuring that UNICEF works to advance the Millennium Development Goals. We a have a press release available upstairs on that.

**UNICEF Press Conference Tomorrow

Also, her first press conference will be tomorrow, at 10:30 a.m. to launch the first ever UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria report. That’s happening at UNICEF House across the street, and we have details with a press release upstairs.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

Also tomorrow at 11:15 a.m., the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh is sponsoring a press conference by the Mayors for Peace on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Participants will include the Mayors of Hirosima and Nagasaki; the Mayor of Akron, Ohio; and the President of the Province of Milan in Italy.

**Rescheduling Today’s Guests at Noon

We had announced Friday that today we would have a briefing by the Peacekeeping Department on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have been told that that briefing will now take place tomorrow, and we will squawk the exact time, as soon as we know it.

**Mr. Fukuda

And finally, a sad note, we were shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Yasunori Fukuda of Kyodo News of Japan. He collapsed in his office on Thursday and died of a brain hemorrhage on Saturday. He was 46 years old.

Mr. Fukuda had been covering the United Nations since 2003 and became chief UN correspondent for Kyodo since 2004. We, as well as all of you I am sure, extend your deepest condolences to his family. There will be a memorial service tomorrow at a funeral home on First Avenue; and we have details available upstairs.

That’s it from me, any questions? Yes, Massoud?

**Questions and Answers

Question: On Mr. Strong, now that the situation in North Korea seems to be taking on more and more ominous situation, has the Secretary-General reconsidered his position on Mr. Strong and decided to appoint somebody else to take his place?

Associate Spokesman: No. Obviously, we’re reviewing the situation in North Korea intensely with our colleagues in the Political Affairs Department. Our position on Mr. Strong is unchanged. We’re waiting for the investigation to run its course. Earlier this morning the Secretary-General was asked for his reaction to what happened over in North Korea over the weekend, and he said that he hoped that the six-party talks can get off the ground and resume. Obviously, everyone agrees that this is the best approach to the situation. Yes?

Question: Is the Secretary-General expected to make any more specific comment about what happened over the weekend involving North Korea launching a missile in the Sea of Japan? And also, this morning at the briefing at 9:30, Mr. Mortimer had mentioned that, in some sense, the NPT was designed to be unamendable. So, I am trying to get a better idea of what the best case scenario is, as far as the Secretary-General’s hopes for pushing concrete changes to the treaty?

Associate Spokesman: We may have a statement later today on North Korea. You know, obviously, as far as the treaty itself, it was created to provide a framework for collective security on nuclear issues, but that framework needs to be credible. And it’s obviously, up to the signatories and to the Member States as a whole to make sure to strengthen that framework and to keep it credible. Yes, Nick?

Question: Steph, quick questions. Do you have any update on Sevan? And have you heard from the verification team? You said within the first week you would, maybe, hear from them and they would tell you whether they would need any more resources or not. Have you heard from them yet?

Associate Spokesman: No, nothing yet on Mr. Sevan. And on the verification team, no, as far as I know, they’re doing their work; and as soon as they’re ready to report something, we do expect to hear back from them. But I have not been given an update. Mr. Abbadi?

Question: On the reforms of the Security Council, what is the Secretary-General’s reaction to the so-called consensus movement which considers formulae A and D as neither bold, nor reflecting equality of States?

Associate Spokesman: I think, as we enter the nuts and bolts of the negotiation process on the reform, we’ll let the Member States discuss
Security Council reform. And I have no comment. Yes? Anybody else? Yes, sir?

Question: What is the connection between Bangladesh and the Mayor of Hiroshima?

Associate Spokesman: It’s a question I was thinking to myself, as I was reading the text given to me. Hopefully, we can get some answers.

Question: (Inaudible)...admission of Japan? (Laughter)?

Associate Spokesman: Yes, well, it’s a valid question. Yes, sir?

Question: On the NPT meeting again, in the Secretary-General’s speech, he mentioned about a nuclear deterrence and a nuclear umbrella should be abolished some day, in the text. And he...(Interrupted)?

Associate Spokesman: I am sorry, he said what?

Question: He said that the nuclear deterrence and, you know, a lot of countries rely on the nuclear umbrella and nuclear deterrence, and somehow we have to find a way to abolish it. Was there any discussion inside, or was that a...?

Associate Spokesman: No, I am not aware, but I can check for you.

Question: Okay.

Associate Spokesman: Thank you very much.

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