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Source: Secretary-General
26 June 2009

Trieste, Italy, 26 June 2009 - Secretary-General's Press Conference at the Meeting of Quartet

SG: We had the first formal Quartet meeting this afternoon in Trieste -- for the reason that you are already aware of. The United States was represented by Senator Mitchell and Under Secretary Bill Burns. We listened to an update from Senator Mitchell on his recent activities with the parties concerned to promote the Middle East peace process. The agenda which we discussed was mainly how to move forward Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and how to address the current situation in Gaza and how to support the Palestinian Authority's economic growth, and also some regional contacts, how we can have a complimentary development situation in the region. You already have the complete text of the joint statement. We are of the view and it is important for the Quartet members that all the parties concerned show meaningful signs of progress in the coming few months – particularly as President Obama has made a quite (inaudible) visionary statement recently in Cairo. We need to work very hard towards meaningful progress [so as] not to lose the faith again of all the people in the Middle East. With these brief remarks, I'd like to open the floor, but I'd like to let you know that this afternoon again we are going to meet with the Arab partners. This will provide us with a great opportunity to get their support as well as their perspectives, to be complimented together with the Quartet's ongoing efforts. Thank you very much and the floor is open.

Q: (inaudible)

SG: First of all, to promote the Middle East peace process and particularly the Arab and Palestinian peace process, it is necessary that first of all the Quartet should be united with one voice. We are closely coordinating with the Arab partners, with the follow-up committee members. Now, with the new administrations in the United States and Israel, we are trying very hard to seize the very favourably created political atmosphere. Particularly, President Obama has made a very important, far-reaching historic statement reaching out to all the parties concerned. This is a very historic moment. Now we need in fact – not necessarily the Quartet, not necessarily Arab countries – the whole world should cooperate fully. Now there are serious humanitarian issues, like early recovery and reconstruction in Gaza. And there was a very important international donors' conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. But we need to implement, translate these pledges into reality, into action. For that to be possible there needs to be reconciliation among the Palestinians. And it would also be very useful for Arabs to show solidarity. The United Nations has a good proposal to kick-start early recovery and reconstruction in Gaza. We have made quite significant progress and changes on the ground in the West Bank. For that, we are urging Israeli authorities to stop settlements, including natural growth, and remove all blocks and open crossings. This will be the first beginning to make sure all our projects and proposals are implemented.

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