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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

25 May 2005

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

**European Union Development Boost

Good afternoon. Starting off with a statement from the Secretary-General:

“The Secretary-General applauds the agreement reached yesterday by the European Union on a substantial increase of the EU’s official development assistance over the next decade, as part of a broader agreement that will significantly increase EU aid to Africa.

“The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the fact that all Member States which joined the EU before 2002 will reach the 0.7 per cent target for official development assistance (ODA) as a percentage of gross national income by 2015, with an intermediate target of 0.51 per cent by 2010. He also welcomes the decision that Member States which joined the EU after 2002 will reach a 0.33 per cent target by 2015, with an intermediate target of 0.17 per cent by 2010.

“The fact that 50 per cent of the EU’s agreed ODA increase will go to Africa will make a real difference for millions of people on the continent, and provide a significant boost to efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

“The Secretary-General is also deeply encouraged by the EU’s strong commitment to reach agreements on debt relief, targets for improving aid effectiveness and the Doha trade negotiations. He is pleased that the EU recognizes the need for more predictable financing of the United Nations’ development efforts.

“The Secretary-General notes that the EU decisions are well in line with the recommendations in his report “In larger freedom”, and that they send a valuable message about the importance the EU attaches to the global partnership for development. The Secretary-General hopes the EU’s conclusions will add further momentum to preparations for the summit due to take place at the United Nations in September.”

**Sudan

Turning to the Sudan, the Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Addis Ababa today, where he’ll co-chair tomorrow with the Chairman of the African Union, a conference aimed at raising support for the African Union’s forces on the ground in Darfur, Sudan. And our guest at the briefing, right after I’m done, will be Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who will brief you on the pledging conference, as well as on the situation in Darfur. And I do believe they have some background material on Sudan that’s available here at the entrance.

**FAO in Sudan

Also on Sudan, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says it’s received just $10.5 million of the $62 million it needs for emergency assistance it needs for that country. FAO needs the funds for agricultural relief operations, which it says are crucial for supporting the smooth transition to a sustainable peace in southern Sudan.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy-Secretary-General, Louise Fréchette, today is giving an informal briefing to Member States on the immediate short-term measures involving management reform at the UN Secretariat. And that’s the same issue she briefed you on earlier, last week, I believe.

**Security Council

Turning to the Council, the Security Council began closed consultations on Sudan and Haiti today. Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefed the Council on the Darfur leg of his recent trip to the Sudan, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdes, is currently briefing on the latest developments in that country.

**Africa Humanitarian

Earlier today in Johannesburg, the UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, James Morris, accompanied by the head of UNICEF, Ann Veneman, and UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, stressed that more investment is needed in southern Africa if gains made over the last three years are to be sustained. This stop in Johannesburg was on their tour through southern Africa and they are currently in Malawi, as we speak. We have a press release upstairs with more information.

**Central African Republic Elections

Late yesterday afternoon, we issued a statement on the situation in the Central African Republic:

“The Secretary-General takes note of the announcement on 24 May by the Joint Independent Electoral Commission of the Central African Republic, of the official results of the second round of the presidential and legislative elections in that country, that bring to a successful and peaceful end, the transitional process in the CAR and the return to constitutional governance in the country. He commends in particular the people of Central African Republic for participating actively in the electoral process”. The full text of the statement is available upstairs.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission there tells us that it’s sending peacekeepers to investigate reports of attacks on civilians by a renegade group known as “Rastas” in the Kabare territory in the province of South Kivu. Also, yesterday UN peacekeepers and DRC government troops carried out a cordon-and-search operation north of Bunia in the country’s north-east. The peacekeepers came from Pakistani and Moroccan contingents, and they were also backed by Indian attack helicopters. Eight militiamen suspected of belonging to the militia known as the UPC/L were apparently killed by government troops, while one government soldier was shot dead during the operation.

**Africa Day

And today, as you may have noticed from the tone of this briefing, is Africa Day, and the Secretary-General issued a message today noting the African Union’s growing strength in conflict prevention and a growing momentum for democracy on the continent. At the same time, however, the Secretary-General draws attention to Darfur, where nearly 3 million people are in urgent need of assistance, as well as to Africa’s high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. We have the full text of the message available upstairs, as well as copies of a statement by General Assembly President Jean Ping on Africa Day.

**Special Representative for Eritrea and Ethiopia

Also, the Secretary-General today appointed Joël W. Adechi of Benin as the new Deputy Special Representative for Eritrea and Ethiopia. Ambassador Adechi has been serving as the Permanent Representative of Benin to the UN since 1999, and he is expected to take up his duties in Asmara in early June.

**Briefings

That is it for me, just a flag for tomorrow: 10:30 a.m. press briefing here by Abolition 2000, an NGO bringing to you an NGO perspective on the conclusions of the 2005 NPT conference; and at 2 p.m., Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, will brief you on the Forum’s recommendation on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

And that’s it for me. Any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question: On Iraq, when will Mr. Qazi brief the Security Council again and are there any plans to add international staff in the country? [The Associate Spokesman later said the UN had 176 staff in Iraq, including civilian and security personnel.]

Associate Spokesman: I’ll get you a date on Mr. Qazi’s next trip to New York. As for adding international staff, that is constantly being reviewed in light of the security situation in the country.

Question: How many people work in the SecretariatBuilding?

Associate Spokesman: Off the top of my head, 1,600, but I’ll count and check for you. [The Associate Spokesman later said that 2,651 people work in the SecretariatBuilding proper.]

Question: Any update on the football game being organized?

Associate Spokesman: The UNDP event? I’ll check for you.

Question: Do you have a short list for Special Representative for the Middle East after Mr. Prendergast leaves?

Associate Spokesman: For the Middle East, we already announced Mr. de Soto.

Question: No, Mr. de Soto takes over for Mr. Prendergast --?

Associate Spokesman: We can talk later.

Question: How many international workers are in Iraq and what are the subset numbers?

Associate Spokesman: I’ll get you numbers are soon as we’re done here.

Question: Did the Iraqis send a letter to the Security Council saying they wanted the multinational force to stay because of the security situation?

Associate Spokesman: I have not seen such a letter, but we can check.

Question: An observation: Given the fact that the Secretary-General did put some importance into the ongoing NPT Conference, I don’t understand why the NPT is not an element of these briefings. Beyond that, given the critical stage where we’re at now, do you have any update as to what’s going on in the basement, what’s the status of the negotiations, and given the fact there’s a lot of concern being expressed over those negotiations, is there a statement from the Secretary-General to try and lift the process downstairs?

Associate Spokesman: We’re obviously monitoring what’s going on in the NPT Conference, but I think the organizers of the Conference should brief you. And we’ll put in a request to have someone come up here, even today if we can.

Question: If you do, let me make one comment before you do organize a press conference at which nothing substantive could be said. So if somebody does organization such a press conference, it would be helpful if somebody could talk about what the issues are, who the players are, and what the state of play is. And along the same lines, are there any plans for the last day for NPT President Duarte to come here or to sum up the Conference?

Associate Spokesman: We’ll ask him as soon as we’re done here.

Question: On an entirely different subject, the issue of stem cells is being discussed very vigorously here and in some other countries from the technical and scientific, as well as moral, point of view. Is there a position of the Secretary-General on either of these aspects?

Associate Spokesman: Not one I can recite to you off the top of my head, but I’ll be happy to look into it for you.

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