|Alexandria, Egypt, 5 September 2006 - Secretary-General's joint press conference with Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Foreign Minister of Egypt (Secretary-General's comments only)
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. And as you have heard from the Minister, we really covered lots of ground in these discussions, and it is always a pleasure for me to come to Egypt and sit down with President [Mohamed Hosni] Mubarak and exchange ideas and views on the pressing issues of the day. And I also was able to brief him on my assessment of my tour in the region so far and, as you know, it is a visit that is intended to encourage the governments in the region to work together and with us in the international community to stabilize the ceasefire in Lebanon and build on it, and also work on comprehensive peace for the region. I was very, very satisfied with the discussions we had and the advice I heard from the President who is very, very experienced and knows the issues of the region. We will take your questions.
Q: After your tour of the Middle East, what are the main conclusions you are going to put in your report to the Security Council? And are we going to have good news about the exchange of the Lebanese prisoners and the Israeli soldiers? And are you going to have another report on Sudan?
SG: Regarding my assessment of the situation, I am leaving the region quite satisfied with the discussions I have had and I am convinced that countries in the region would work for the full implementation of [Security Council resolution] 1701 and that it is important that we work collectively to strengthen the government of Lebanon, its independence and its territorial integrity. It is important that we work together to pacify Lebanon and its relations with Israel -- but not stay there -- and move on to work on peace on the other tracks – Palestinian in particular, and the Syrian track. And I am convinced that with that determined effort we can succeed. The ceasefire is fragile, but I believe we are taking steps to consolidate it.
Q: (to the Egyptian Foreign Minister about getting a new peace process going and any steps the Arab League could take. Mr. Aboul Gheit said that Arab Foreign Ministers would discuss this at a meeting next Wednesday and that Arab counties would go back to the Security Council. He believed that the Council would discuss anew the issue on the 21st of September.)
SG: Let me add by saying that the war in Lebanon has been a wake-up call for many leaders around the world. And they are becoming more and more convinced that we need to deal with the root causes of the problem. We need to solve the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We need to look at comprehensive peace in the region based on UN resolutions and the concept of 'land for peace'. And so I look forward to seeing a reenergized effort to resolve this issue and this is where the initiative of the Arab League that the Foreign Minister has referred to becomes important and critical. Thank you very much.