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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
5 January 2005

Press Briefing


Briefing correspondents on the Security Council’s schedule for January, César Mayoral of Argentina, whose delegation holds the presidency for the month at the start of Argentina’s two-year elected term, said his country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Rafael Antonio Bielsa, had opened consultations this morning by asking members to observe a minute of silence for the families of the tsunami victims. 

Mr. Mayoral read out three Council statements to the press on, respectively, the Sudan, the Middle East, and the tsunami disaster, as follows: 

On the Sudan, members of the Security Council, recalling previous resolutions of the Security Council meeting in Nairobi in November 2004 and welcoming the initialling the peace agreement on 31 December 2004, looked forward to the formal signing of the peace agreement and expressed the hope that this development would have a positive impact on the situation in Darfur.

Concerning the Middle East, regarding the upcoming Palestinian elections, the Council hopes that restraint will prevail to allow them to be conducted in a free, fair and inclusive manner. 

Council members observed a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the tsunami that occurred in the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004.  Members of the Council expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this natural catastrophe, which affected many countries around the world. 

Members of the Council support the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in Kobe, Japan, on 18 January 2005, and the Ministerial meeting to be held in Geneva between 6 and 11 January 2005 about humanitarian assistance to victims of the tsunami.

Members of the Council welcome the effort exerted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Coordinator of Humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, in response to the crisis.  Members of the Council urged the international community to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the tsunami.

Asked whether consultations on Thursday on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also included questions surrounding the United Nations force there, the so-called “sex for food” scandal, the Ambassador said the discussion would revolve around the content of the upcoming report of the Secretary-General. 

Regarding Security Council reform, another correspondent asked about Argentina’s position on Brazil’s possible candidacy. 

He said that today was not the day to discuss Security Council reform, but, in his national capacity, he added that Argentina had a different position about Security Council reform.  There were two formulas:  one was to extend the Council by six new permanent members, and the other was to create a new category of members for four-year terms, with the capacity to be re-elected.  Argentina preferred the second formula, but today was not the day for that discussion.

Another correspondent, noting that both Arabs and Jews were well-rooted in Argentinean society, asked Mr. Mayoral if there was a particular contribution that Argentina could make to the Middle East peace process as Council President. 

Mr. Mayoral said that Argentina was the first country that had voted at the United Nations in support of Israel’s statehood, and it supported Council resolution 242 concerning the occupied territories.  In the context of the Middle East, his country had a very clear position in support of peace and the peace process.  He hoped that the next Palestinian election would be a first step in activating that process. 

He replied to another question that the Chairmen of the Sanctions Committees for 2005 had been settled.  There would be an informal meeting of the three chairmen of the three terrorism-related Committees probably next week -- the Counter-Terrorism Committee; the “1267” Committee, concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban; and the “1540” Committee, concerning acquisition of mass destruction weapons by non-State actors and terrorists. 

Asked why Iraq and Côte d’Ivoire were absent from the schedule, he said that the situation in Côte d’Ivoire might be discussed on 17 or 18 January.  Iraq was not on the programme.  The Iraqi people were presently deciding whether to hold elections on 30 January, after which, the Council would pronounce itself.  The decision to determine the date and outcome of those elections was not one of the Council or the United Nations, but a decision of the Iraqi people, themselves.  Regarding the Council’s work programme, he would wait and see what happened. 

He replied to another question that Jan Egeland would brief the Council on 27 January on humanitarian situations in Africa.

If Paul Volcker issued his report on the oil-for-food programme before end of month, would it likely go to the Security Council?  another correspondent asked.  Mr. Mayoral said he did not think so.

Regarding how the Council would handle the panel of experts’ report when it met on 19 January to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that the Algerian delegation was in charge of that issue and he was awaiting its position and presentation of the report.

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