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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gives interview to RIA Novosti

RIA Novosti


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will travel to Moscow on March 17 to participate in the meeting of the Middle East Quartet (Russia, US, UN, EU). In an interview with the RIA Novosti New York Bureau Chief Dmitry Gornostaev, before starting the trip that includes also Israel and Palestine, Mr. Ban shares his views on peace process in the Middle East, possible sanctions against Iran, situation in North Korea, Afghanistan, UN-Russia cooperation, etc.

- Mr. Secretary-General, what are the main points of your program in Moscow?

- I will be in Moscow on 17, 18 and 19 of March. I will have bilateral visit to Russia this time. I'll be engaging in dialogue with President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. I'll have an opportunity again to addressing scholars and students in MGIMO, and will be honored by a doctorate degree. Of course, I'll have other opportunities of meeting with academicians and businessmen, artist, and all variety of walks of life - in addition to my meeting with UN officials.

- How do you feel about the prospects for restarting the indirect talks between the Palestine and Israel after the last Arab league decision to allow such negotiations and the positive response from Israeli government? What is your overall assessment of the situation in the Middle East on the eve of the Quartet meeting in Moscow? What do you think about the role of Russia in the Middle East peace process?

- I appreciate, first of all, and highly commend the initiative and leadership of Russian government to host the Quartet meeting at this time. This is crucially important timing for the peace process in the Middle East.

The overall atmosphere has not been favorable. Now, with the proximity talks now being facilitating by the United States, it is very opportune timing for the principles of the Quartet to express their support and encourage further, try to find out what kind of role the Quartet can play. I'm quite convinced that this time the Quartet leaders will be able to play a significant role. I'm very much encouraged by this.

At the same time I would really hope that Israeli government should fully cooperate so that this proximity talks which has been very difficultly arranged and facilitated by the United States, and by the United Nations, and many other parties will not derail because of settlement policies. I have strongly condemned this settlement policy which goes counter to the peace process mood.

- Do you have any concrete proposals to the Quartet to submit them to Israel in order to stop the settlement activity?

- The Quartet will issue a strong statement. First of all, the Quartet has already issued a strong statement condemning this settlement. And I'm sure that this will be reaffirmed by the Quartet meeting. However, we will discuss overall situation in the Middle East, including how to facilitate and encourage proximity talks. I believe that this proximity talk should eventually lead to direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authorities.

- What is your assessment of the UN-Russia cooperation? Do you expect more from Moscow in terms of contributing troops and police officers in the peacekeeping operations and providing heavy equipment like helicopters?

- Russia as one of the permanent members of the Security Council has been playing a primary important role in maintaining peace and security. Russia has been participating in peacekeeping operations and also providing logistical support of critical assets such as helicopters, airplanes. This is what we would expect. I have been discussing this matter with President and Foreign Minister whether the Russian government could provide critical assets for the peacekeeping operation in Darfur and elsewhere.

- Given the high degree of the respect to you in the international community, don't you think that you can make your personal contribution - in addition to the work of the Six nations - to the international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem?

- First and foremost the Iranian authorities should fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions on nuclear development program. Security Council has adopted already three important resolutions which include sanction measures. I believe that this current proposal by EU3 + 3 (France, UK, Germany + Russia, China and U.S.) provides good basis for negotiations. And they also should fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. As a matter of principle, this matter should be resolved peacefully through dialogue, through negotiations. As a Secretary-General I have been urging publicly and privately, whenever I was meeting with Iranian authorities and leadership, to fully cooperate with IAEA and also implement the Security Council resolutions. And I will continue to do that.

- In terms of sanctions that are being proposed now by various members of the UN Security Council, do you exclude or not the possibility of imposing new sanction measures on Iran?

- The Security Council has already taken three sanction measures resolutions. I understand that the members are discussing and consulting on the issue of taking further sanction measures. This is something that to be determined by the Security Council members.

- On North Korea, have you receive any kind of response from DPRK after the visit of the Undersecretary Mr. Lynn Pascoe to Pyongyang? Do you consider to visit North Korea in the future by yourself?

- Lynn Pascoe's visit as my special envoy to the DPRK was quite encouraging. It was the first such high-level dialogue with DPRK authorities since 2004. The dialogue and partnership between the United Nations and DPRK should further be strengthened. That is what I believe is mutually beneficial during the period when the DPRK and its people are suffering from difficult economic situation, and in particular when the humanitarian situation is very worrisome. So the United Nations is ready to provide such assistance. In addition to that, there are many other fields in which the UN and the DPRK can cooperate with each other.

We will try. And I myself, as a Secretary General, will do whatever I can to facilitate the resumption of the Six-party talks, so that the Six-party talks' members will be able to discuss the denuclearization process of the Korean Peninsula. And when and if an opportunity arises I'm prepared to visit Pyongyang myself.

- Do you hope for the progress at the Geneva talks co-chaired by UN on resolving the situation in the Northern Caucasus after appointing the new UN envoy?

- The consultations on this situation in Georgia have been rather difficult, but we've had some practical progress. I hope that with the appointment of my special representative, Mr. Antti Turunen we will have more and better energized opportunities to have more practical progress.

- How do you estimate the results of countering drug-trafficking in Afghanistan and do you think that more can be done on this issue between UN and other parties in the region, like Russia and Collective Security Treaty Organization?

- The combating drug-trafficking in Afghanistan is one of the very important elements in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. With the new administration led by Khamid Karzai inaugurated, there was heightened and renewed support from the international community. We have seen such a strong support of the international community through the International Conference on Afghanistan held in London on January 28, in which I myself participated. That was a good opportunity and momentum where and when the international community and Afghan leadership agreed to have smoother transition whereby Afghanistan will have greater ownership and leadership in addressing all issues.

We expect that Afghan government will address these drug-trafficking issues and eradicate corruptive practices which have been quite prevalent in the society. This will be a part of good governance. Enhancing good governance is very important. President Karzai committed to that. And the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes has been very closely cooperating with Afghanistan government.

In fact, the gross volume of export of the opiates has fallen by 18% during last year. This is a significant result, with active involvement, and active support of the UNODC. We'll continue to work with Afghan government and other members of the international community to eradicate drugs. And at the same time we are trying to expand to provide some alternate farming opportunities to Afghan people so that they will feel much incentives in not producing opium.

- Do you consider any concrete proposals on cooperation between the UN and Russia and the regional organizations in that area?

- Russia has very important role to play in helping Afghan government to meet all this important policies including eradicating drugs. And I'm going to discuss this matter with the Russian leadership and I'm also going to discuss it with the leaders of the Central Asia, five Central Asian countries, who can also contribute to this.

- Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General, and we wish you a safe trip.


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