Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

13 June 2001


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Secretary-General’s trip to the Middle East

Good afternoon. I am going to start with the Secretary-General’s mission.

This morning, the Secretary-General met in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, with whom he discussed the prospects for a ceasefire in the Middle East in the wake of the security agreement concluded on Tuesday night in the presence of United States Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet. The Secretary-General in his meeting with the President agreed that, for any security agreement to endure, it must be embedded in a political process. They reviewed the efforts currently under way to encourage the Israelis and Palestinians to implement the recommendations of the Mitchell Commission.

The Secretary-General and President Mubarak also discussed the Lebanon-Israel border, Syria and Iraq.

Following that meeting, the Secretary-General talked to reporters and said, in response to a question about the restrictions in the Palestinian territories, "I think the purpose of the efforts we are making is in the end to ensure that the siege would also be lifted." The Secretary-General added about the Palestinians, "I know they are suffering, I know the pain, and I think this is why we are all here."

The Secretary-General then met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher el Sayed, who had been present at the meeting with the President, and with whom he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian security agreement, the Iraq sanctions review exercise and the situation in the Sudan.

The two then held another press encounter in which the Secretary-General said that he is working closely with regional leaders, the United States, the European Union and Russia, and asserted, "I think there is emerging a real international alliance for peace. And I think that is a very useful thing."

The transcripts of both press encounters are available on the Web as well as in the Spokesman's Office.

The Foreign Minister then hosted a luncheon in honour of the Secretary-General, where discussions continued.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General departed from Cairo for Damascus. This evening, he is to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara, and to attend a dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister.

The Secretary-General is expected to meet with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tomorrow, before he leaves Syria for Jordan.


**Press Releases


We have upstairs a press release on the symposium the United Nations Department of Public Information is organizing on the question of Palestine. This is the ninth such conference which is organized for prominent journalists and Middle East experts. This year’s meeting, entitled “The search for peace in the Middle East”, will take place in Paris 18-19 June –- this coming Monday and Tuesday. A message from the Secretary-General will be delivered by Shashi Tharoor, Interim head of DPI. Also present will be Koichiro Matsura, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Terje Roed Larsen, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.


**Questions and Answers

Question: Can you give us any more details on the Secretary-General’s trip once he goes from Syria to Jordan and Lebanon?

Deputy Spokesman: He goes from Syria to Jordan tomorrow. Then on Friday he is in Lebanon, and then Saturday he flies to Israel. Between Saturday and Sunday he will be seeing Israeli and Palestinian senior authorities, during the weekend.

Question: Will he meet with Arafat and Sharon?

Deputy Spokesman: I have that in the programme, but the schedule is not confirmed yet.

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For information media - not an official record