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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
5 May 2004

Press Briefing


Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.



The Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, expressed his great dismay that the relative calm along the Blue Line was disrupted today.

This morning, there were numerous Israeli air violations of the Blue Line and of Lebanese airspace.  Shortly afterwards, anti-aircraft fire from the Lebanese side of the Line was reported, and some anti-aircraft shells may have led to some damage on the ground in Israel.

Subsequently, Israeli jets attacked two suspected Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon.  No casualties have been reported so far on either side.

De Mistura called on Israel to halt its overflights, and on the Lebanese side to halt the ensuing and dangerous anti-aircraft fire.  He reminded all parties that one violation cannot justify another.


Questions and Answers


Question:  Yes, Mr. Eckhard, concerning the statement of the Quartet yesterday, it seems that the Quartet stands ready to deal with the humanitarian situation in Palestine, provided that there is a new leadership or reformed leadership.  Is that the precondition?  And what is going on in the General Assembly concerning this issue this week?

Spokesman:  I can’t give you an answer on the General Assembly.  But, no, that is not a precondition.  The Secretary-General said that the humanitarian situation in Palestine cannot wait another day.  So, I think he hopes that this issue can be dealt with immediately.  The point about an empowered Prime Minister was a political point and it should be kept separate from the humanitarian points in the statement.

Question:  Who is taking the lead now?  Is it the United States or the UN in dealing with the World Bank and other organizations to do just that?

Spokesman:  I don’t know the specifics of that.  So, why don’t you see me after the briefing?  I’ll see if I can clarify that for you.  Edie?  [The Quartet is inviting contributions to the World Bank Trust Fund.]

Question:  Another Quartet follow-up.  Is the Secretary-General planning to, or has he contacted the Israelis and the Palestinians about the results of the Quartet meeting?

Spokesman:  I have not seen anything on his phone log for today and I’ll have to ask him what his intentions are.

Thank you very much.

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