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Source: Secretary-General
16 March 2004

New York, 16 March 2004 -
Secretary-General's press encounter
upon arrival at UNHQ (unofficial transcript)

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Q: Sir, on the Middle East, if I could. How concerned are you that the cancellation of the prospective round of talks between the two Prime Ministers is a negative signal to the ongoing attempt to settle the crisis. And beyond that if I could, back on Iraq, Dr. [Hans] Blix in his book and in various appearances, said that his gut said up until late in the game last year, maybe as late as January-February, that he believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I wonder what your gut was telling you at the same time?

SG: Let me start with your second question. We were all relying on the inspectors to tell us about their findings, and at that point the inspectors had not found any weapons of mass destruction, but you will recall that Blix has himself said, absence or evidence of possession does not mean it doesn't exist. And so I was relying on the inspectors, and quite honestly at that point I didn't know whether they had it or did not have it.

On the Middle East, let me say that I am disappointed because quite a lot of us have been waiting for a long time for the two Prime Ministers to meet and begin to get the process back on track. And so it is with disappointment that I learned of the news. But I hope this does not mean that talks are put off forever, and that they will find a way to get back to the table as soon as possible.

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