Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · Geneva

15 June 2001

Geneva Press Briefing


Jamel Ben Yahmed, Chief of the Press Unit of the Information at Geneva, briefed journalists about the Secretary-General's visit to the Middle-East; the Iraqi restitution of Kuwaiti property; report of the Secretary-General on Kosovo; Security Council's mission to the Balkans; Conference on Disarmament; United Nations Compensation Commission meeting; the appointment of Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative to East Timor; and upcoming press conferences.

Secretary-General's visit to the Middle-East

Mr. Ben Yahmed said that the Secretary-General continued his visit to the Middle-East and yesterday he met with King Abdullah II of Jordan. The Secretary-General traveled to Jordan from Damascus where he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to review efforts to calm tensions in the Middle East. They also discussed the stalled Syrian track of peace negotiations with Israel, tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border and the Security Council's review of the Iraq sanctions regime.

Mr. Ben Yahmed said that talks between the Secretary-General and the Syrian President also touched on the report of the fact-finding committee headed by former United States Senator George Mitchell. Mr. Annan said that he had pointed out that the Mitchell committee report did not supersede UN resolutions which form the foundation for a peace settlement. 'I indicated that the Mitchell report is not replacing the resolutions but it is an interim step to get the parties back to the table,' he said, adding that a settlement 'will have to be based on 'land for peace,' which is the basic premise of the UN resolutions.' Mr. Annan also discussed the Middle East and Iraq during a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa.

Mr. Ben Yahmed said that following his talks in Damascus, the Secretary-General travelled to Aqaba, Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah II, Prime Minister Ali Abul Raghed and Foreign Minister Abdel-ilah el-Khatib. The discussions focused on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. The Secretary-General also received a comprehensive briefing on the implications for Jordan of the current Security Council discussions on Iraq.

The Secretary-General will visit today Lebanon. He is scheduled to arrive at approximately 10:30 a.m. at Beirut International Airport. He will meet with Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud; Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri; and President of the Council of Ministers Rafic Hariri. Following his visit to Lebanon, Mr. Annan will travel on Saturday to Israel and the Palestinian territories.


For information media - not an official record