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BRIEFING BY FRED ECKHARD
September 20, 2002
. . .
The Security Council this morning held an open meeting to receive a briefing by the UN Special Coordinator on the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, on recent developments in the region.
Mr. Roed-Larsen noted the deeply unfortunate upsurge of violence in recent days, including two suicide bombings in Israel and a bomb blast at a Palestinian school near Hebron, which he called "repugnant and tragic events".
Most recently, he said, the Israeli Defence Force yesterday once again encircled Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's offices in Ramallah and carried out major demolitions, in a siege that continues today. Noting recent Palestinian reform efforts, he said, "Yesterday's incursion and the renewed isolation of President Arafat's compound undoubtedly weaken the position of those working for major reform."
Mr. Roed-Larsen described the recent work done by the Quartet -- made up of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States -- including its meetings held this past Tuesday. There was a common understanding at the
Quartet meeting, he said, that neither the security problem nor the humanitarian crisis can be fully solved without a political solution.
He asserted, "Security first, as the Secretary-General has said so often, is never going to work in the Middle East. Steps need to be taken not on a sequential basis, but in parallel and with reciprocity."
Mr. Roed-Larsen also informed the Council about the continued deterioration of the Palestinians' humanitarian situation. The latest report by the Special Coordinator on social and economic conditions, which is to be issued later today, shows that Palestinian unemployment is now around 50 per cent, and that poverty levels have reached 70 per cent in Gaza and 55 per cent in the West Bank.
We have the text of his briefing available in my Office. And after the open meeting, Mr. Roed-Larsen and the Security Council members discussed the Middle East further in closed consultations. And he will speak to you at the Council stakeout once those consultations are finished.
. . .
Yesterday afternoon, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq, briefed the Security Council in closed consultations about the timetable for work by UN inspectors, following Iraq's acceptance earlier this week of the inspectors' return.
He told the press after the consultations that a first advance party of inspectors could be on the ground by 15 October. As you know, the Commission will hold talks with Iraqi experts in Vienna, starting 30 September, to finalize practical arrangements for the inspectors' return.
Mr. Blix also gave the Security Council a timeline for the first 120 days of the inspectors' work, as detailed by Security Council resolution 1284. After a two-month period of preparation, including getting the inspectors' facilities in Baghdad ready, UNMOVIC could start its work on the ground and begin a 60-day period for examining Iraq's remaining disarmament tasks. The Commission would then report to the Security Council on its work, so that the Council could approve a programme of work for the inspectors.
. . .
The new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, spoke to the press in Geneva today, telling them that, after one week of getting his bearings in his new job, "The task before me is enormous. I am conscious of that."
Asked about the recent upsurge of violence in the Middle East, he said, "I hope that we will revert immediately to this six-week period of relative peace and get down to the real job, let the Quartet continue." Asked about whether he would adopt a lower profile than his predecessor, Mary Robinson, he responded, "Judge me on the basis of results, not on style." We have the full transcript in my Office.
. . .
**Questions and Answers
Question: I just wondered whether we'd have the opportunity to put any questions to Mr. Hans Blix at the same time as he's being interviewed by Swedish Television?
Spokesman: I think you'd be encroaching on Swedish Television's territory, you know.
Question: Yeah, but it was publicly announced. So, I wondered whether he might answer some, you know, questions afterwards, or something?
Spokesman: I think he probably would want to schedule that as a separate interview, if he had the time, and I urge you to contact Ewen Buchanan, his spokesman, to see if he has any flexibility in his schedule. Yes, Bill?
Question: How strictly is the Secretary-General's press conference on Monday going to be limited to the reform programme?
Spokesman: I haven't discussed that with him, but I suppose if we had our druthers, we'd ask it be reform and only reform. He doesn't have too much time. So, we'll see if, once you exhaust the reform questions, he could take a few questions on Iraq, which I am sure is what you want to ask about.
. . .
As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated. Click here for more information.
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