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Source: Secretary-General
14 August 2007
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S STAKEOUT FOLLOWING SECURITY COUNCIL’S MONTHLY LUNCHEON,
UNHQ, 14 AUGUST 2007
(unofficial transcript)


SG: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. I’m glad to see you again.

I had a very good meeting with the Security Council members. We mainly discussed the situation in Darfur, Haiti, Somalia, Chad and the Middle East.

I will be happy to answer your questions.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General. What has happened, or what is the latest with regard to the release of the Israeli hostages? Mr. [Michael] Williams agreed a month ago already – I know he is leaving – but he agreed a month ago that their release should be an absolute priority for the international community. We had some American clergymen and missionaries a couple of decades ago, and there was a tremendous hue and cry, and they were released. The Israelis have eight hostages, three of them recent, but two of them dating back to 1982. What is happening with them? Some of them we don’t even know whether they are alive. What is happening with regard to their release?

SG: We have been very much concerned about these delayed hostage cases. We have been doing all we have been able to do - through the facilitating role of my facilitator, through meeting with government officials, and I am still working very hard. As I am going to meet with the Speaker of Parliament of Israel, I am also going to discuss this matter. I am very much concerned and it is regrettable that we have not been able to resolve this issue. It takes quite some time, as you may know, these kind of hostage cases are not that easy to resolve, but as I have repeatedly said, this is a high priority on my agenda, and I have been really working very hard.


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Q: Can I follow up on the prisoners’ issue? I was just wondering, Sir, as an Arab reporter, whether you are going to raise the case of the Palestinian prisoners, the 10,000 who are also in Israeli prisons. In your meeting with the Knesset [speaker], particularly, that there are some comments in the Arab world that, as an SG, in eight months you have meet more Israeli officials than any other SG before.

SG: This prisoners’ case, I understand, is an important issue in promoting reconciliation and the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Whenever there was a meeting, we have raised these issues, and I have strongly again urged and appealed to the Israeli government to promote and facilitate the peace process. There needs to be good political gestures from the Israeli government. And they did, the last time, by releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

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