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

4 June 2001

Encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 4 June 2001
(unofficial transcript)

Q: About the peace process in the Middle East and the offer from the Egyptian leader, President Hosni Mubarak, what is your comment, Sir?

SG: I think we should all do whatever we can to end the tragedy in Palestine and I think the developments in the region over the weekend were very positive. The Israelis have declared a ceasefire. President [Yassir] Arafat has also declared a ceasefire, and we have to make sure they stick and that we move aggressively into the implementation of the Mitchell Plan.

Q: Sir, you announced several times that the Middle East [is] in major trouble. Can you send the Security Council to send troops to protect the Palestinian children and the unarmed from the Israeli's excessive use of force?

SG: That is a decision for the Council to take. They are in charge of their own deliberations, and I cannot tell them what to decide.

Q: Sir, the Security Council extended the oil-for-food programme for one more month. What's next, and what is your comment regarding what's called "smart sanctions"?

SG: I think the Security Council is in the process of reviewing the oil-for-food scheme. They had hoped that their review would have been concluded before the extension of the next phase. Since they were not able to do that, they did a technical roll-over of one month, to give them time to complete that work and then move into the next phase.

Q: Sir, if you're saying a message to the Arabic viewer or the Arabic speaker, that they are watching you right now on the Egyptian select channel, Channel 1 in the Egyptian TV, what can you tell them regarding the Middle East process and the United Nations role in that?

SG: I think we are all determined to do whatever we can to bring peace and justice to the region. We need the support of all leaders, and we need to bring the violence down. And I think we are on the right track, given the developments over the weekend. But we all have to work together to bring peace to the region. As long as the fighting and the conflict in Palestine continue, we cannot pretend that the region as a whole is at peace. So it's everyone's business. We all have to work together to calm the situation in Palestine. And we at the United Nations are engaged with other partners in working towards peace. And I will continue my efforts, in fact, my Representative [Terje Roed] Larsen just came this morning to brief me on developments on the ground. And I'm working very closely, not only with the Council, but other leaders in the region, and beyond the region, to ensure that …

Q: President Mubarak?

SG: I talk to him very often. In fact, I spoke to him over the weekend on this issue. And we will continue our efforts. Shukran.

Q: One question, please. What's your reaction to the Iraqis following through with their threat to stop exporting oil last night, and what, if anything, can you as Secretary-General do to get it flowing again?

SG: I don't think I can do anything. We need to wait to see the Council finish deliberations for us to determine what the outline of the new programme is. And of course, Iraq is a sovereign state. If it decides to turn off the oil, we can bring pressure to bear on them to change their position. Whether they would change it or not, only time will tell.

For information media - not an official record