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United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
17 September 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS
Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press conference held in New York today, 17 September:
On the issue of ending impunity, which I know is very dear to your heart, you have two requests this week of interest. One by Judge [Richard] Goldstone, asking you to play a role in evidence that was found by the Commission that Israel has committed war crimes. And the other one was by the Syrian Foreign Minister, asking you to investigate the investigator of the [Rafiq] Hariri assassination. Will you be doing either? What role and what input and what do you think of both requests? Are they within your domain?
I believe that accountability for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law is essential to both protection of human dignity and the quest for sustainable peace and security. In that regard, I have been supporting Judge Goldstone’s mission to investigate any violations of human rights and humanitarian laws in Gaza. As this report was released yesterday, I have directed our staff to have a detailed review of the recommendations of this report and we will discuss this matter when we have fully reviewed this report.
Yesterday, I had a telephone conversation [with Judge Goldstone] and I was informed by him of broader outlines of his report before he had released his report publicly. And we will continue to discuss with him.
Mr. Secretary-General, while the peace process is in tatters in the Middle East, and the inhumane suffering of the people in Gaza and the siege continues, we were pinning hope on the meeting that is going to be held here in the United Nations between President Obama, President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu. However, Abu Mazen said very clearly that he will not join such a meeting unless a freeze on settlements is actually enacted. Now many would say that this freeze is not a condition but an obligation under the Road Map and under international obligation, which Israel should have implemented anyway. What would you do to ensure that such a meeting takes place, taking into consideration the present situation of the President of the Palestinian Authority?
I will try to meet individually those leaders -- President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu -- when they will be in New York. My position at this time is that this tripartite meeting will provide good opportunities for leaders of both Israel and Palestine, and of course the United States, to address all the pending issues, to address differences of their policies. I know that there is still serious gap in bridging the differences. And the United States President’s Special Envoy, Mr. [George] Mitchell, has been tirelessly discussing this matter. He is still in the region. I sincerely hope that we will see some positive outcome from this meeting. I am going to participate, and in fact convene a Quartet meeting, and I am also going to meet with the Arab Follow-Up Committee members next Saturday. The Quartet meeting will be held on Thursday next week. Therefore, this will also provide a good opportunity, a crucially important opportunity, for Quartet principals to engage among us and together with Arab leaders.
How can you ensure that this meeting will happen -- the trilateral meeting -- taking into consideration the Palestinians’ request for the freeze to take place first? Do you think they will maybe soften their position when you talk to them? How can you ensure it?
I don’t know if I have a responsibility to ensure it. But I will try my best to facilitate this.
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* Reissued to correct a factual error.
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