|New York, 27 June 2006 - Secretary-General's press encounter following Security Council consultations on Sudan
Q: On the developments on the Palestinian-Israeli front there – as you know there has been an agreement among the Palestinians due to the national dialogue that they have over the document, the prisoners' document. How important is this, from your point of view, how long ago did you speak to the President of the Palestinian Authority, and how concerned are you, actually?
SG: You must have an inner track?[laughs]
I spoke to him after lunch. I spoke to President [Mahmoud] Abbas after lunch, where we discussed the situation on the ground, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier, the need to release him and try and de-escalate, and I have a call in to Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert – I hope to speak to him tomorrow. And I also spoke to President Bashar al Assad of Syria this morning, and so I am in touch with leaders in the region. President Abbas was quite positive, and I think indeed if they have come to an agreement, an agreement that will require them to work together, avoid the kind of development which was ebbing towards a civil war that we were all worried about, then of course we should all be very happy about it.
I will have to go and meet the Iranian Foreign Minister, so the last one.
Q: Why did you speak to Bashar al Assad on the Palestinian issue, or was it on the Palestinian issue, why did you speak to the Syrian President on that? And how concerned are you about an operation in Gaza?
SG: I have urged restraint on all parties, and that is also one of the reasons why I will be talking to Prime Minister Olmert tomorrow morning. When I spoke to President Assad we are all trying to find ways of helping defuse the situation, and I was talking to anyone who is likely to have influence on the situation to play a role and to use their influence to ensure that the prisoner was released and that we are able to defuse the situation. I think this is also what the leadership under President Abbas would like to see. And I did speak to President Assad because of the presence of the Hamas faction in Syria - the [Khaled] Mashal faction.
Thank you very much.