|Q: Do you have any plans about a multinational force in Gaza, and also, what do you think of the criticism of the UN and the Quartet and the US policy that appeared in the Alvaro de Soto memo?
SG: This is an idea [for] which we need to explore the possibilities. I have initially exchanged views on this issue with the Security Council members just a while ago. I think there are many issues which we will have to consider, whether, if we agree, or if we decide to have an international presence in Gaza, where to locate them, what would be the terms of reference, what would their missions be, and all is not clear at this time. When I had a telephone talk with President [Mahmoud] Abbas yesterday, he raised this issue to me, to consider this issue. As you know, Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert also raised this issue. I have yet to discuss more in detail with the countries concerned.
About Mr. de Soto's end-of-mission report which was unfortunately leaked to the press, first of all I would like to make it clear that this is his personal view. I would not agree with his point that the Quartet has become a kind of side show. As you will agree, the Quartet has been reenergized and if you look at the composition of the Quartet, the four Quartet principals – if you look even at their individual roles – you have Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice of the United States, Foreign Minister of Russia [Sergey Lavrov]; and you have the European Union, represented by Mr. [Javier] Solana, and Madame [Benita] Ferrero-Waldner, and the EU presidency, and you have the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Each and every principal, they have their own capacity and initiative and leadership in facilitating the peace movement there, individually. And collectively, the Quartet I think has been contributing a lot to the peace and security in the Middle East. With an energized role of the Quartet, we are now going to have another, very strengthened, enlarged form of Quartet, inviting leaders of Palestine and Israel, and the next day there will be a meeting with Arab partners involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Syria and the League of Arab States. So, by engaging Arab partners, by engaging directly concerned parties like Israel and Palestine, the Quartet will be able to have a more strengthened role in facilitating this peace movement. Therefore, I would like to ask you to have some confidence and trust in what the Quartet will do in the future.