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

4 December 2006

The Security Council President for December told correspondents today that the month would be busy, as there were a number of urgent issues before the Council, a large number of mandates expiring, a number of reports due and a calendar shortened by a week due to the holiday season.

Briefing on the Council’s programme of work, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of Qatar, said that, even before the programme of work could be established, the Council had adopted a Presidential Statement on 1 December, supporting Nepal’s request for United Nations assistance in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement reached between the Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Today, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland had briefed the Council for the last time in his current capacity, namely on protection of civilians in armed conflict.

He said there would be open debates on: the Security Council mission to Afghanistan (7 December); Iraq (11 December); the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (13 December); the International Criminal Court (briefing on 14 December); the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ICTY/ICTR) (15 December); Burundi (18 December); the International Independent Investigation Commission (briefing on 18 December); the Great Lakes Conference (19 December); and on subsidiary bodies of the Council, such as the Counter Terrorism Committee (briefing by Chairpersons on 20 December).

A thematic debate at the ministerial level would take place on 12 December on sustainable peace in the Middle East, he said. Speaking in his national capacity, he stressed that the question of Palestine was of major concern to the international community and the Council. The debate would be chaired by Qatar’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani. He hoped that, with the meeting at the ministerial level, the momentum gained during the September ministerial meeting could be continued and that the meeting could be concluded with a Presidential Statement.

Apart from open debates, mandate extensions would be considered for: the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus; the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire; the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force; the United Nations Operation in Burundi; and the United Nations Integrated Office for Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL). For the adoption of the resolution on UNIOSIL on 22 December, Secretary-General Kofi Annan would be present to bid the Council farewell.

Further, the Council would hold consultations on: the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC); Chad; Sudan/Darfur; Sierra Leone; implementation of resolution 1702 (2006) regarding Lebanon; Guinea Bissau; and a review of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate.

Answering questions regarding the Palestine debate and speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Al-Nasser said the question of Palestine was the main problem in the Middle East and in the world. It was a complex issue, and Qatar hoped to make some contribution towards its solution. On the proposal of Qatar, a meeting at the ministerial level on the issue had been held in September; unfortunately, no consensus on either a resolution or Presidential Statement could be reached. He would, therefore, attempt to make the question of Palestine the main theme of Qatar’s presidency of the Council, which, as the main body for maintaining peace and security in the world, must play a role in the peace process in the Middle East.

Nobody had approached him to propose a special meeting on the situation in Iraq, which the Secretary-General had characterized as worse than civil war, he answered a question. The issue was being dealt with by the Governments of the United States and Iraq. The 11 December meeting had nothing to do with the political situation in Iraq. He hoped that anybody who wanted to propose such a meeting would first consult Iraq’s Government. As a sister country of Iraq, Qatar was concerned about the situation there, and in the region, and hoped that neighbouring countries would assist Iraq in gaining peace and stability.

In response to other questions, he said that the issues of Iran and Somalia would be considered, depending on the circumstances and developments. Lebanon was of special concern to the Council, as it had adopted resolution 1701 (2006) after the Israeli aggression against that country. As for the internal situation in that country, he said the Council could not interfere, but it could send signals urging parties to settle matters through dialogue. The Council had issued a Presidential Statement condemning the murder of Pierre Gemayel.

Asked about embargo violations in Somalia and a United States draft resolution calling for a force of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), he answered that the main element of that draft was a proposal to lift the arms embargo for the Government of Somalia, so that it could receive arms. He could not comment on the proposal, as the draft had not yet been discussed in the Council. As Chairman of the Sanctions Committee on Somalia, he had received a sensitive report of the Monitoring Group. It alleged, among other things, that 11 countries were providing arms and support to the Islamic Court. As such allegations needed evidence, he had sent letters to the 11 Governments, inviting them to discuss the matter with the Committee. He hoped to receive answers within two weeks, after which he would report back to the Council.

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For information media • not an official record

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