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Press Conference by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations Headquarters

17 December 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations Headquarters


Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press conference held in New York today, 17 December:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Before we begin, I want to make a statement on Côte d’Ivoire.

As of this morning, the situation has taken a dangerous turn.

Let me say clearly and directly: any attempt to obstruct UN operations or blockade the Golf Hotel is totally unacceptable.  Any attack on UN forces will be an attack on the international community.  I emphasize: those responsible for the loss of civilian lives will be held accountable.

In these circumstances, it is crucial for both parties to avoid provocations or a further escalation of violence.

The response by ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and the African Union shows the continent united in its commitment to respect the constitutional order and will of the people.

That is our message, as well:  the results of the election are known.  There was a clear winner.  There is no other option.

The efforts of Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters to retain power and flout the public will cannot be allowed to stand.  I call on him to step down and allow his elected successor to assume office without further hindrance.

The international community must send this message — loud and clear.  Any other outcome would make a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since this is the final press conference of the year, let me take a few minutes to reflect with you.

2010 was a big year for multilateralism — a big year for the United Nations.  We adopted a forward-looking action plan on the Millennium Development Goals.  We mobilized $40 billion for the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.  And we just established a high-level commission on accountability to ensure that commitments are tracked and results delivered.

We are making progress in the malaria fight.

After years of effort, we created UN Women and hired a dynamic new head of the agency, Michelle Bachelet.

We made advances in Nagoya on biodiversity.

In Cancún, Governments took an important step forward in building a low-emissions, climate-resilient future.  They agreed on a balanced package of measures that formalizes mitigation pledges from all countries and ensures increased accountability for them.  They made progress on forest protection, climate finance, adaptation and technology.  We will build on this foundation as we look to COP 17 [Seventeenth Conference of Parties] in South Africa.

We completed the first successful NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] Review Conference in 10 years, and were able to advance my five-point plan on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

We supported highly sensitive elections in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We strengthened the UN’s capacities for preventive diplomacy and mediation.  All told, we supported 34 different mediation, facilitation and dialogue efforts this year.  The persistent work of UN envoys helped, for example, to ease the crisis in Kyrgyzstan and keep a transition to democracy on track in Guinea.  Next week, the Deputy Secretary-General will attend the inauguration of the newly elected civilian President of Guinea.

We advanced the fight against impunity by strengthening the International Criminal Court.

We have continued to assist Member States in resolving difficult issues and undertaking impartial inquiries on sensitive matters from the flotilla incident to the Bhutto Commission to the Special Tribunal on Lebanon.

We enhanced efficiency and effectiveness on the ground through a first-of-its-kind Global Field Support Strategy, which concentrates support for various peacekeeping missions in single, more efficient regional hubs.

We responded to the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, as well as the floods in Pakistan.  And we helped amplify the voices of the vulnerable, the billions around the world facing global economic insecurity.

Looking ahead, our challenge is to carry our progress forward.

Resources are tighter.  Demands on the UN are growing.  This requires us to focus more on prevention, preparedness, being proactive, being persistent — all within a framework that is transparent and accountable.

I will have much more to say next month on our agenda for 2011.

For the moment, let me say: We will continue to closely watch the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

In Sudan, I am deeply concerned by the recent clashes in Darfur.  And in just a few weeks, the people of Southern Sudan will exercise their right to vote on their future.

The United Nations remains committed to supporting the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and holding the referendum on 9 January next year.  And we will work to help the two sides address common challenges in the aftermath.

We will seek to advance the Middle East peace process to realize the two-State solution, despite the absence of direct talks.  I once again urge the parties to engage seriously and be forthcoming on substance.  A meeting of the Quartet principals is expected early in the new year.

We will also continue to focus on improving life in Gaza.  And I repeat:  Israel must meet its obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem.

With respect to Myanmar, despite its serious shortcomings, the elections and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were significant developments.  Myanmar can and should build on them.

Our strategy is one of long-term comprehensive engagement.  We will continue to work to help Myanmar meet the objectives of national reconciliation, democratic transition and respect for human rights.

And we will seek progress on many of the longer-term challenges – including peace and security in the Korean peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, bringing a stable Government to Somalia, and helping to reunify Cyprus.

With regard to Cyprus, we have worked to increase the momentum in the talks, and I plan to meet leaders next month in Geneva.  Between now and then, I hope they will continue to build on common ground as I urged them to do last month here in New York.

Finally, a few words on Haiti.  I am concerned about allegations of fraud in the recent elections.  A second round is scheduled for mid-January.  We will continue to support free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Haitian people.  I urge all candidates and their supporters to remain calm and refrain from violence.

With respect to the cholera challenge, our first priority continues to be saving lives.  We are working to reassure the population that the disease can be managed through early treatment and some clear and simple steps.  It is crucial to get this message out, far and wide.

And we need more funding.  The cholera response strategy that we launched last month is still only 21 per cent funded.  Haiti needs more doctors, nurses, medical supplies, and it needs them urgently.

As you know, there are several theories on the origins of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.  Not all reports have reached the same conclusion.  MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] and the Government of Haiti have conducted a number of tests.  All so far have been negative.

But there remain fair questions and legitimate concerns that demand the best answer that science can provide.

That is why, pursuant to close consultation with Dr. Margaret Chan of WHO [World Health Organization], I am announcing today the creation of an international scientific panel to investigate the source of the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

The panel will be completely independent and have full access to all UN premises and personnel.  Details on the panel will be provided when finalized.

We want to make the best effort to get to the bottom of this and find answers that the people of Haiti deserve.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking back and looking ahead, I want to reiterate a point that I believe defines today’s complex and connected world.  Truly global action requires mobilizing support, creating broad alliances and building coalitions.

In the search for solutions, progress does not come with big bangs, but with steady, determined steps.  It is the accumulation of these small steps, these steady elements of progress that set the stage for larger changes — the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

We live in a unique multilateral moment — a world changing in the most dramatic ways since the end of World War II.  The United Nations must keep pace.  We have made progress this year.  But we can and must continue.

Thank you for all your support and now I will be happy to take your questions.

Question:   Mr. Secretary-General, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA), welcome and congratulations for your performance last night, the other night, at the UNCA Awards.

Secretary-General:   Thank you very much.

Question:   But the question is this, your statement on Côte d’Ivoire looks like an ultimatum.  What are the UN forces, or the UN in general, willing to do to implement your request?

Secretary-General:   Our mandate is in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolution recently adopted to protect the civilian population, and in close coordination with the Côte d’Ivoire Government, to protect the safety and security of key Government officials, including Mr. [Alassane] Ouattara and other election commission members.  United Nations forces will continue on this given mandate.  Our priority is to protect the civilian population.

Question:   How can you force him to step down?

Secretary-General:   The situation is, as I said earlier in my statement, very tense.  You saw the violence which took place yesterday, and there were dozens, more than a dozen people were killed.  That is quite tragic, and it is an unacceptable situation.  I have discussed this matter this morning with my Special Representative, Mr. Choi [Young-jin], and his senior staff.  Now they are keeping contact with the two sides, and they have given warning that they should refrain from taking any action to the street.  I have also spoken with many world leaders, particularly in Africa.  As you know, Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union, and the President of ECOWAS, are now in Abidjan.  My Special Representative met with them and I understand that they have also met Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Ouattara.  I have not been able to get the details of their discussions, but I hope that, with all the international community’s support and backing, the situation will calm down, and the constitutional order should be restored as soon as possible.

Question:   Mr. Secretary-General, it’s about Haiti.  You just announced the panel of experts for trying to study the origin of the outbreak of cholera, and the other day, Alain Le Roy said that maybe the panel was going to be constituted before Christmas.  I don’t know if you have more details on when they’re going to start to work on the field?  And, secondly, the UN always said that there are not going to be conclusive results; the scientists cannot have final results, conclusive results, of who, or where, was originated the outbreak.  How do you think this panel is going to get any conclusive results?

Secretary-General:   As I said, details of composition [are] not yet made.  This will be announced as soon as possible.  There will be epidemiologist experts and microbiologists who are all experts.  Independent and internationally very authoritative scholars will be chosen and will lead this investigation inquiry.  We will let you know as soon as possible.

Question:   You’re saying that it’s impossible, that scientists can’t get a conclusive result, say in the origin of the cholera, was at that point, was originated in that way — how do you expect this panel is going to get a conclusive result?  It’s like, you think the people are going to get confidence again with MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] if you do this kind of study?

Secretary-General:   Let us wait until this investigation is over.  It is a little premature for me to make any prejudgment about the end result and course of action.  We will take, of course, necessary action, acceptable to all other people — people of Haiti, first of all — when this investigation report is made.

Question:   Mr. Secretary-General, you’ve made some statements this past week on the suicide attacks inside Iran, as well as comments in terms of the death of their nuclear scientists.  I wonder — the Ambassador of Iran has been very clear that they want this investigated, and the UN is included — how do you foresee the nuclear non-proliferation discussions to go forward in 2011 until these various incidents are investigated?

Secretary-General:  First of all, as you read my statement, I condemn this terrorist attack, which is totally unacceptable under any circumstances. Under any pretext, this terrorist attack is not justifiable.  For negotiation on nuclear issues, it is encouraging that they had already started the first round of negotiations between E3+3 and Iran.  They have agreed to meet again in Istanbul sometime early next year, preferably January.  We are hoping that they will make some substantial progress in their negotiation.  I understand that they had exchanged initial views and positions through their first meeting.  It was an encouraging first step, and I’m looking forward to speedy progress of this negotiation.  I have been…

Question:  But Iranians already have been investigating what is happening in their country at the moment, with the nuclear scientist’s death, and also with the suicide attacks.  Are you planning to work on an investigation?  Is there any discussion?

Secretary-General:   At this time, I don’t have any answer to give you.  But I will have to think about that.

Question:   Thank you Mr. Secretary-General for this opportunity, and best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season.  Last Tuesday, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, Robert Orr, briefed us on the Cancún meetings and described and analysed for us your active role in meeting delegations individually and in groups, urging them to reach an agreement.  It was understood that you made significant contribution to what was generally viewed as a relatively successful outcome.  You have always advocated transparency in the house.  And the international community has the right to know, are you now prepared to tell us whether you intend to seek a second mandate to continue the work you have done in Cancún on climate change and other issues?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:   What is the main point of your question?  Is it the later one, or climate change?

Question:   The later one.

Secretary-General:  It is true that I have exerted all my possible energy and time and efforts to make progress on climate change.  In Cancún, before and after, I have engaged with the many world leaders, key leaders who would have influence in making progress in the Cancún Agreement.  I am very encouraged that we were able to have agreement in Cancún.  It is not the perfect agreement; it is not a sufficient one at this time.  But as I told many delegations, let us not have the perfect be the enemy of the good.  That message was loudly and clearly heard by the delegations, negotiators, and I am glad that we have made a reasonable set of agreements on all the areas, starting from adaptation, technology, finance and deforestation, and also such interim understandings on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, particularly the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol.  That, I will continue until we see the comprehensive, legally binding treaty.

For your second question, I think I will have something to tell you sometime early next year.  But let me focus at this time on all urgent matters which require our immediate attention.  I thank you very much.

Question:   If I could follow up on that.  So, you say you will have something to announce, but are you saying that you will want to run for a second mandate or not?

Question: Why not now, instead of early next year?

Secretary-General:  Now we have so many urgent things which require our attention and my efforts, including Côte d'Ivoire and Sudan referenda.  Therefore, a little bit, please be patient.  I will have to squarely address this issue sometime next year.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, we would like to hear from you, Mr. Secretary-General, on your opinion as a champion of the press and the freedom of the press.  Today, the Australian federal police has said that Mr. Julian Assange has not committed any crime.  Also, many leaders, including the Russian Prime Minister, said that he did not commit any crime.  WikiLeaks continue to publish confidential communications.  How do you view this, as a champion of the press and freedom of the press?

Secretary-General:  As for that decision about his case — that, I leave it to judiciary process.  As for this, the fact that there were leaks of many confidential diplomatic documents, I think there needs to be a balance, fair balance, between the right to know and between freedom of expression, right to know as well as to preserve the necessary and confidential conduct of diplomacy, which requires confidentiality.  Many countries take different measures.  In some countries, normally this kind of confidential document should be preserved at least 30 years before they can be released.  It’s unfortunate that these confidential documents have been leaked.  But whatever the motivations of this leakage might be on the part of the leakers, this will make very difficult for the normal and reasonable conduct of business, particularly in the diplomatic world.

Question:  As a follow-up sir, did they cause you in particular any embarrassments and any difficulties in dealing with other diplomats and countries?

Secretary-General:  For me, I made my position clear.  And I heard the explanation from the Secretary of State and I told, publicly and also through the Secretary of State, that my job as Secretary-General is open and transparent.  And normally, the United Nations, the Secretariat and the Secretary-General and any other senior advisers — they meet quite often with Member States.  And all the conduct of their business has been done in a very transparent way on the basis of mutual trust and confidence.  And that’s what I am going to continue.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, just as another quick follow-up to Talal’s questions, I think the one thing we are all interested in knowing is your reaction to that particular memo seeking your credit card numbers, your frequent flyer numbers, your bank account PIN numbers and your biometrics.  But my question is really that North Korea has issued another very serious warning today to South Korea not to stage artillery drills on the island which they attacked last month, threatening an even higher escalation of violence.  I wonder whether you’ve been in contact with the parties and what your advice would be.

Secretary-General:  I am increasingly and deeply concerned about the situation in the Korean peninsula, as I am one of the citizens of the Republic of Korea, while serving as Secretary-General.  You may know that it is quite natural that I’m more concerned than maybe anybody else.  Therefore I would hope, first of all, that tension should be reduced in the Korean peninsula.  We have been working during the last six decades to establish peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, through dialogue, through exchanges and cooperation, by building trust and confidence between the two parties.  Now that the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has attacked on South Korean territory, that is one of the gravest provocations since the end of the Korean war.  We hope that, first of all, the situation will calm down and try to find out ways to establish peace and security through dialogue, through exchanges and cooperation.  But first and foremost, I have urged restraint on the part of DPRK.

Question:  You didn’t answer my first follow-up, about your reaction to the memo about trying to get all of this information, not just from you, but from your senior team and special representatives.

Secretary-General:  I think I have already answered many times through my Spokesperson’s statement, through my answer this morning.  I’m quite transparent, but there needs to be a decent and reasonable way of respecting the privacy and confidential way of conducting business as Secretary-General or any other senior positions.  This is what is required and what has been practiced in the international community.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, just following up on Edie’s questions a little bit.  You have expressed frustration in the past about your lack of ability to establish lines of communication with the regime in Pyongyang and, I believe, sent Mr. [B. Lynn] Pascoe there to get that started.  As you look back on your first term, how frustrated are you about your progress there, or lack of it?  How would you describe your progress in being able to communicate — get your message across, the kind of message you said here?  And also, what would you say to them regarding the revelation recently that they’ve constructed, potentially, a uranium enrichment plant not previously known, and maybe moving forward in a dramatic way on their nuclear programme?

Secretary-General:  Again, I have been dealing with all Members States of the United Nations, but depending upon to whom you talk, there are certain countries [where] my communication channel has not been much easier.  I have been trying to establish my own channel of communication with the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] authorities, in a reasonable way.  As you know, in February this year I dispatched my special envoy, led by Mr. Lynn Pascoe, and I had been meeting often with senior representatives of the DPRK Government on the occasion of the General Assembly, and I have been meeting with the Permanent Representative of the DPRK here in New York.  Therefore, my communication has been reasonably good, except that I have not been able to meet at the highest level of leadership; that, I will continue to try to establish.  About this uranium issue, again, this is quite alarming that the DPRK has not been fully implementing, first of all, the joint statement of the six parties and the joint declaration between South and North Korea on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which were agreed between the two parties.

Question:  Secretary-General, there has been increased frustration amongst the Palestinians with the work of the Quartet, and some countries are calling for dissolving the Quartet because of it inability to deliver.  Do you oppose or do you support those countries who are now recognizing the Palestinian State on the [19]67 borders and do you think that this is a wise decision at this point, or do you oppose it?  And, on another front, how worried are you about what’s going on in Lebanon, due to the conflict over the Tribunal?

Secretary-General:  On the Quartet, we will try to have a Quartet meeting as early as possible in the new year.  Our envoys have been discussing this matter.  We have been trying to have a Quartet meeting since our last meeting in September in the United Nations.  Somehow, the situation has not been favourably developing.  As you know, these direct peace talks have been stalled over the settlement freeze issue, and I regret it deeply that this settlement issue has not been resolved.  I sincerely hope that all these issues should be resolved as soon as possible for the inalienable rights of Palestinian people and also peace and security in the Middle East, and also considering its implications for peace and security of the international community.  I will give my best efforts to be a part of this process.  The Palestinians have an inalienable right for their independence and establishing such an independent State — that should be discussed as we see the peace negotiations evolve.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, how worried are you about the consequences of the Tribunal on the stability of Lebanon, and is there any regional effort that can get out of this crisis, particularly the Syrian/Saudi effort?

Secretary-General:  Again, on that Special Tribunal on Lebanon issues, I have made my position loud and clear, that this is an international independent judicial system.  Nobody can interfere and nobody can prejudge the outcome of judiciary proceedings.  Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that the international community must respect the integrity of the Special Tribunal on Lebanon.  And, at the same time, I am concerned about all this rhetoric over the Special Tribunal on Lebanon.  It is not desirable, and I have been discussing this matter with many leaders, not only in the region, but other key leaders, including Quartet members.  They are all supporting the work of the Special Tribunal on Lebanon.  It is important that the international community should support it, so that the judges and prosecutor of the Special Tribunal will be able to discharge their responsibilities as mandated by the Security Council resolutions.

Question:  Returning to Côte d’Ivoire.  What is going to happen to the diplomats at the United Nations?  I realize that the Credentials Committee has to eventually decide, but they also come to see you and present credentials.  How are you going to handle that?

Secretary-General:  For that specific case — I have not encountered any such case yet.  But when any specific case arises, I will have to discuss with Member States, particularly the Credentials Committee, on that.  First and foremost, the constitutional order should be restored in Côte d’Ivoire.  There was a winner declared and certified — declared by the Independent Electoral Commission and certified by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, my question is on Sri Lanka and just about when your Panel of Experts plans to release its report on the LLRC [Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission] and will it be made public?  And do you have any comment on independent media reports that the conduct of the LLRC has been way below standard, and the testimony has only come from a fairly small fraction of the population, and is there anything that can be done about that at this late stage?

Secretary-General:  After long consultations between myself and President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, I am pleased that the Panel of Experts is now able to visit Sri Lanka and meet with the Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation, and I sincerely hope that the Panel of Experts will be able to have good cooperation, to have an accountability process and make progress as soon as possible.  This is a result of long consultations, and I appreciate the flexibility of the President Rajapaksa on this issue.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, you said at the beginning that this is a time to reflect.  I was wondering whether you might reflect on the question of the independence of your office.  It seems often that the Secretary-General’s a captive of the P-5.  You went to China; you did not raise Mr. Liu [Xiaobo] with Mr. Hu [Jintao].  On the issue of the US spying on you, we’re making a joke about it, but it is quite serious.  There’s a huge difference between Government secrecy to protect genuine national security interests and secrecy to cover up misuse of authority, misuse of power — I don’t see where the national security of the United States is threatened by not knowing your frequent flyer number.  So I was wondering, do you feel you have to choose between maintaining the support of the P-5 and speaking out on human rights and openness in Government, that billions of people around the world look to you to speak about?  And I have to follow up on Korea; the Russians have asked the Koreans not to go ahead with this test — do you agree with that?

Secretary-General:  There are 192 Member States in the United Nations and each and every Member State has equal right and status.  Of course, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, the Security Council has special responsibility to maintain international peace and security.  And among them, again, by provision of the Charter, the five permanent members of the Security Council have their own unique and distinct responsibility and status — that is true.  Even admitting that, in my conduct of business with Members States, I have tried to be very objective and fair and balanced on all matters.  I think that my record makes it quite clear.  It is true that I have been keeping a very close, cooperative relationship with Security Council members and also the P-5 — that is important to facilitate and to address many important security-related issues.  That, I think, is normal for any Secretary-General in conducting his or her business.

Question:   Why didn’t you raise Mr. Liu, the Nobel Prize winner, when you were with President Mr. Hu in China?

Secretary-General:  I made it quite clear about that position in my statement, in my press conference, that I raised this issue.  In addressing a certain issue, there are many ways of addressing and discussing this issue — human rights or security issues or any other sensitive issues.  I raised this issue with Chinese leaders while visiting China.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, today in the LondonGuardian, citing WikiLeaks, there was a report that the Indian Government in occupied Kashmir is conducting torture continuously.  Do you have any comment on this particular report, which is public in the Guardian?   And in case that you refrain from that, I would like to ask you about Pakistan’s response fund to the emergency — that it is very poor, and that it is now stalled, literally and that there is no aid getting there — can you please respond to this one?

Secretary-General:  I think that for that issue, my Spokesperson has been answering many times and I think I also gave my answer to that.  I understand that there have been discussions between India and Pakistan on all matters, including this Kashmir issue.  And leaders of the Indian Government have also been discussing among themselves and taking necessary measures, first of all, to ensure the stability and prevent violence there and also protect human rights.

Question:  But this is a report that talks about torture in Indian jails, this particular report that is published today.  This is a report about people who are tortured in Indian jails, consistently.

Secretary-General:  I would like to find out about specific cases — I am not aware, but maybe I’ll have my Spokesperson let you know.

Question:   I wanted to ask a question on Iran.  You met with Mr. [Mohammed Javed Ardishir] Larijani just last month, he was here and you discussed human rights.  Eighty Iranian intellectuals wrote you an email letter asking you to get involved in the human right situation in Iran.  Dr. [Ebrahim] Yazdi is a Foreign Minister of Iran, 80 years old, very ill; he’s in jail, so many others as well.  Any comments or position on so many Iranians in jail, especially Dr. Yazdi, 80 years old, Foreign Minister?  Is there anything you can say about that?

Secretary-General:   I had very long discussions, a very candid exchange of views on how the UN and Iran can work together to promote and protect human rights in Iran.  And I raised all the issues pertaining to Iranian human rights with him and he answered.  Whatever he was not able to give me a full explanation, he promised me that he would send me answers in writing, and I am waiting for that.  It was quite a good meeting for me to discuss in depth the human rights situation in Iran.  We touched on all the cases, even some specific cases, and I will continue to work to promote and protect human rights in Iran.  You may not know that during the last four years, I have been consistently and persistently working with Iranian on nuclear issues and human rights issues.  Thank you very much.

Question:   Thank you very much.  Secretary-General, you asked the two leaders in Cyprus, when you met last month, to intensify the talks and to come up with a practical plan to bridge their differences.  What if they cannot do it in the Geneva talks?  What are your expectations, and are you considering withdrawing your goodwill mission from Cyprus if they cannot reach any compromise?

Secretary-General:   As you know, I had a very good talk on 18 November in my office with the two leaders of both communities.  We were not able to make a significant breakthrough.  We know that, while they had been discussing these core issues, they were stuck in property issues.  And we were talking about how we can overcome these issues which had been stopped and whether we can change certain approaches in addressing all these core issues.  And I have given them and asked them, for the coming nine weeks, they should meet and expedite their process, negotiations, and meet me in Geneva in late January.  The date has been not been fixed yet, and I am going to visit Geneva.

I am encouraged that, since the last week of November, they have been accelerating their negotiations bilaterally and I hope that by the time we meet again trilaterally in Geneva, we will be able to have much more substantive progress on core issues.  I will spare no efforts.  I have been speaking with key stakeholders like Turkey, European Union and Greece.  They are all supporting my good offices role and they are also all supporting to see progress in this negotiation.

Question:   When you came into this office, you said that Darfur, and Sudan generally, was one of your main topics.  As the year ends, the Government is now fighting the one rebel group it had signed a deal with, Minni Manawi’s faction; there is no access to Jebel Marra in Darfur; and even Mr. [Luis Moreno] Ocampo of the ICC [International Criminal Court] said that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] is not reporting on the killing of civilians because it has been threatened by the Government.  You summoned Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari once to a meeting somewhere in Europe about this Tabarat killing where peacekeepers didn’t even leave their base to go to where people have been killed.  I am just wondering, what are you going to do differently in 2011?  Is the report on this Tabarat massacre going to be made public?  Also, just a follow-up on to the question on Sri Lanka, are you make that report public or at least will the reports that you are given on the killing of the civilians be made public?  Thank you very much.

Secretary-General:   The situation in Sudan will be, I am sure, one of the top concerns and top interests of the international community, starting with the 9 January referenda.  The preparation for the referenda has been so far progressing well, without much incident.  But there is still sticking issues, like the establishment of an electoral commission in Abyei.  Again, the security situation in Darfur, that is of serious concern.  The recent bombing by the Sudanese Government in the northern boundaries of Southern Sudan — that is again very much alarming and very much a concern.  We have been making strong démarches that the Sudan Government should fully cooperate with this matter.  And I will spare no effort.  This afternoon, I am going to meet the Minister of Peace and CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] for Southern Sudan and we will discuss this matter.  The peace negotiation has not been progressing well, except that the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement, LJM, have agreed to negotiate a text — that can be done, but without the participation of all other rebel movements like JEM [Justice and Equality Movement], SLA [Sudanese Liberation Army], Abdul Wahid, without their participation, this negotiation for peace will not be sustainable.  So we are really trying our best efforts.  My Joint Special Envoy, [Djibril] Bassolé, has been exerting his best efforts.

Mr. Gambari also has been working very hard with the Sudanese Government to have freedom of movement of UN peacekeepers as well as humanitarian workers.  That is our top priority concern these days, and we will continue.

Question: What about Tabarat and Sri Lanka?  Are the two reports going to be made public?  It’s in your power to do so.

Secretary-General:   That we will have to discuss with the Group of Experts when they finish their consultations.  Thank you very much.  I wish you all the best for a happy new year.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.