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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 29 July 2013

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

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Welcome to the briefing.

** Israel

I have a readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with Her Excellency, Ms. Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister of the State of Israel.

The Secretary-General met today with the Justice Minister of the State of Israel and chief negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Ms. Tzipi Livni.

The Secretary-General expressed his strong support for the resumption of credible negotiations to achieve the two-State solution and his appreciation for the recent courageous decision of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in this regard.

He welcomed the positive engagement of the Arab League Peace Initiative follow-up committee. He stressed the importance of creating an environment conducive to the resumption of talks and encouraged both sides to take further positive steps in this regard.

** Egypt

The Secretary-General made a number of telephone calls yesterday concerning the situation in Egypt, including with Egyptian Interim Vice-President Mohamed ElBaradei, the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Qatar, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. In all of his calls, he shared his deep alarm about the situation in Egypt, and the unacceptable loss of life in recent days.

In his call with Mr. ElBaradei, the Secretary-General expressed his profound concern about the direction in which the transition in Egypt is moving. He renewed his calls for the interim authorities to launch a genuinely inclusive, peaceful political process for going forward. He underlined that with every new death, this long-term reconciliation becomes harder.

In his other calls, the Secretary-General underlined the need for the interim Egyptian authorities to quickly step up their efforts to launch a genuinely inclusive political process.

Also yesterday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for a credible, independent and prompt investigation into large-scale killings in Egypt, in which the security forces appear to be heavily implicated.

** Iraq

The Acting Special Representative for Iraq, Gyorgy Busztin, expressed his deep concern following today’s wave of car bombings that killed and injured dozens of Iraqis. He said that he was deeply concerned about the heightened level of violence, which carries the danger that the country may fall back into sectarian strife. He urged all political leaders to take immediate and decisive action to stop the senseless bloodshed.

** Mali

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) says that yesterday's voting in the first round of Mali's presidential election took place peacefully. Turnout is reported to have been high across the country, although no official figures have yet been released.

The Mission adds that international and national observers were present in all regions, including Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. The Mission provided security support to the Malian defence and security forces throughout the day and continues to help secure the counting centres. MINUSMA acknowledges the excellent cooperation between UN and Malian forces in the provision of electoral security.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bert Koenders, together with the heads of the international observer missions and some key ambassadors, met the presidential candidates today to discuss the process and the next steps. All were reminded of the need to respect the results and to address any complaints through established legal processes.

** Democratic Republic of the Congo

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, says it is highly alarmed over allegations of killings, forced recruitment and illegal detention of civilians by combatants of the rebel group known as M23 [23 March Movement]. MONUSCO says that it has received credible reports indicating that 10 people were forcefully recruited by M23 combatants on 22 July at Kibumba, in the North Kivu Province. Three of the 10 victims were reportedly killed by M23 combatants as they were attempting to escape.

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in charge of the rule of law, Abdallah Wafy, said that the Mission condemns all serious human rights violations attributed to members of M23 and reiterates its call to M23 to fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law. MONUSCO warns that the M23 will be held responsible for the fate of anyone it has abducted or forcibly recruited.

Questions, please? Tim? Microphone?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Thank you. Good afternoon, Eduardo. Has the Secretary-General met with Ms. [Angela] Kane yet to discuss her report on the chemical weapons inquiry?

Deputy Spokesperson: We will have… hopefully, we will have a note to correspondents sometime later on today, perhaps.

Question: So, it hasn’t happened yet?

Deputy Spokesperson: Yeah, it has happened, yes. Matthew?

Question: I have a number of questions, but first I just wanted to ask one. I’m just coming here from the… from the North Lawn Building, where there is a briefing of the General Assembly by Mr. [Paulo Sergio] Pinheiro, of the… of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. And I just didn’t… what I don’t understand is why it wasn’t in the media alert, why there was nobody from Media Accreditation Liaison Unit there, and why the only way to cover it is from a photo booth without any translation? What… does the UN not want this meeting covered? It’s an open meeting.

Deputy Spokesperson: No, I’ll have to find out for you, Matthew. It’s the first I’ve heard of this.

Question: Okay, alright. Well, my question is this, in… in South Sudan… I know that there… there… you know, that President [Salva] Kiir, you know, dismissed, you know, all the Ministers and the Vice-President, but I wanted to ask you about this one. Pagan Amum, who is the negotiator with Sudan on oil, has been ordered not to leave Juba, and since there seems… I’ve seen the Secretary-General commenting on how… on how other former recently… until recent, leaders have been treated in terms of detention and inability to move, is there any comment yet by Hilde Johnson or the Secretary-General on what’s happened in South Sudan, which many countries have… have expressed… and the UN has a mission there… is this consistent… is the detention to a city of a… of a… until recently, a major figure justified and what does the UN think?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General always stands for rule of law and stands for the fact that people should be treated according to law, so we’ll leave it at that. That’s all I have for you right now. Anything else, ladies and gentleman?

Question: Sure, I’m… I want to… I want to ask something about Haiti, but I want to be sure, since I never know when you are going to say “last question”, to get this one in. It has to do with the question I asked last Friday. I’m kind of… I’m just… it seemed like a pretty straightforward question: what’s the relationship between the UN and room 310? But, I want to add one thing to it, which I’ve learned since and I need to… I need to ask you, which is that, you know, the Free UN Coalition for Access is advocating for journalists who have had their press passes threatened, and in some cases changed, and I’ve learned that the UN gives press passes to interns for UNCA [United Nations Correspondents Association] that don’t even purport to be journalists, and I wanted to know, it seems like it’s a pretty serious… I mean, I guess if everyone can have a press pass, it’s no problem, but since there are actual journalists that are having their press passes threatened, I wanted… I wanted to really ask you very clearly, maybe it’s a DSS [Department of Safety and Security] issue, maybe it’s a DPI [Department of Public Information] issue, are there press passes given to people…? You know, it’s not that I’m trying to say; they’re not really journalists, they don’t even purport to be journalists.

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, you’ll have to ask DPI.

Correspondent: I’m asking you because it’s a pretty serious…

Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have that information.

Correspondent: You said rule of law. This is a rule of law question.

Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll try to find out for you.

Correspondent: Okay, thanks.

Deputy Spokesperson: Okay, one more question?

Question: Yeah, the Haiti question is that, the Haitian Government has acknowledged that… that there’s been a spike in cholera just literally this month, they’ve put out statistics. And so I wanted to ask you this. You’d said on Friday, and I understood that nothing is changed by the new report… by the… by the people that studied Haiti… studied cholera before now, saying that the UN did bring it, but given the commitment that you expressed on Friday by the Secretary-General, is… is the UN going to release numbers? Does it… does it keep track of the actual progress in terms of either decreasing or… or in this case, it’s been increasing, cholera in the country? What does… what does it say about these new statistics that, despite the calls for funds, etcetera, that the problem seems to be getting worse?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, as storms arrive, obviously, the possibility of contamination of water rises. The UN is working very hard with the resources it has to put together a plan to help combat and eventually eradicate cholera from Haiti. As I said on Friday, I think our appeal has subscribed to 23 per cent, so obviously, we depend on the generosity of Member States and the generosity of philanthropic organizations to provide the funding, so that the UN, through PAHO [Pan American Health Organization], through the World Health Organization and through other organizations, can carry out this very important work. I’ll leave it at that.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Have a good afternoon.

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