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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
11 August 2010

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

/...Good afternoon, everybody.

**Questions and Answers


Question:  Is there any update on the Panel meetings, and is there any liaison between them and the Secretary-General regarding the flotilla?

Spokesperson:  Well, what I told you yesterday was that the Panel met with the Secretary-General and then they subsequently met amongst themselves.  And I can tell you that those discussions have continued this morning.  That’s not a meeting with the Secretary-General.  They’re now meeting amongst themselves.

Question:  Yes, they’re meeting amongst themselves, but is there any liaison between them and the Secretary-General?

Spokesperson:  As I say, they met yesterday.  They met yesterday with the Secretary-General.  They now are getting on with their work.  And, of course, at various points, they will be liaising with other officials and, doubtless, with the Secretary-General.  But the key point here is that they met yesterday, the four of them, with the Secretary-General.  And they then met in the afternoon, the four of them, and they continue those discussions today, the four of them.

Question:  Do you expect any statements from them after their meetings are finished?

Spokesperson:  I think the answer is no.  But we will keep you updated as we can.  But we will be depending on the Panel to keep us informed as they go along.

Question:  Martin, are there going to be available some kind of physical contact address, et cetera, so that we can call somebody, ask questions or so?  Not going through you, because obviously, they are pretty much independent, as far as I understood from your statements.

Spokesperson:  Anything they wish to say will be through my Office.

Question:  Yes, Martin, I have a couple of questions.  First of all, do you expect any statements by the Quartet?  There have been some statements at the State Department saying that they expect something from the Quartet, calling for direct negotiations.

Spokesperson:  If and when there is something we will let you know.

Question:  Okay.  There are no plans for any meeting among the principals over the phone soon?

Spokesperson:  Well, as I say, if and when we have something, I will let you know.  What I’ve said before, as you know, the Secretary-General spoke with [United States Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton last week by telephone and they obviously talked about the efforts of Senator [George] Mitchell and the progress that was being made and the efforts being made to move to direct negotiations.  And, obviously, they also talked about the Quartet’s role in that process of trying to move to direct negotiations.  If and when we have something, we’ll let you know.

Question:  Okay, I just have a different question on a different topic.  There have been reports in the press about a deal reached between Libya and Israel over the release of an alleged spy who was kept by the Libyans.  And they said that, in return, the Libyans will build houses in Gaza through the United Nations, through the UN mechanism.  I wonder if you have any information on that and more details on this.

Spokesperson:  No, no, I don’t.  But I’ve heard the question.  I think my colleagues will have heard, and we’ll see what we can find out.

Question:  I don’t know, it’s a hypothetical, but if the Libyans seek the UN’s assistance to build houses in Gaza, would…?

Spokesperson:  As I say, I’ve seen the media reports, the same as you have, but I don’t have anything here and now.  Yes, please?  Yes?


Question:  Yes, just a follow-up to Khaled’s question.  Later that day, when you sent us the readout with the Secretary-General’s talk with Secretary of State Clinton, Mrs. Clinton did indeed have dinner with President [Barack] Obama.  Now, they obviously probably discussed the issues in regard to the talk of the Secretary-General.  Is the Secretary-General, or anybody else, suggesting that he should have a greater role in the Middle East peace process than he is having now?

Spokesperson:  I don’t quite follow the question.

Question:  Did anybody suggest that, after this talk, after this exchange of views with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the Secretary-General would or should have a greater role in the Middle East peace process?

Spokesperson:  I heard the question, but I don’t quite understand it, in the sense that the Secretary-General already plays an important role, through the Quartet, in the Middle East peace process.  He, as you know, has visited Gaza.  He has visited Israel.  He has taken part in Quartet meetings.  He has been on the telephone many times with leaders in the region, including quite recently, as I have told you.  He is actively engaged in playing his part, along with others in the Quartet, to help foster the right atmosphere so that Israel and the Palestinians can move to direct and constructive talks as soon as possible.

Question:  Martin, Geoffrey Palmer is a former Prime Minister and [Alvaro] Uribe is also a former, since 7 August, President.  They are accustomed to have their aides and their secretaries when they are at a meeting, and talking and discussing certain issues.  Do they have, or these two people, or the others, will have the secretaries, aides with them at panel meetings?  Or they just take notes themselves?

Spokesperson:  The four of them are meeting together, as I’ve said.  They will be assisted.  I do not know what the format of their meetings will be.  I think they’re all capable individuals, including the Panel members from Israel and Turkey, with much experience.  And I’m sure they will do what’s necessary so that they can do the job they need to do.

Question:  The readout yesterday by the Secretary-General — it said something like that he hopes the Panel will help in the peace process in general, and more specifically, “to improve relations between Turkey and Israel”.  I’m just wondering, what has the Panel of Inquiry to do with improving relations between Turkey and Israel?  And this is very similar to what Susan Rice said, it’s almost the same sentence exactly, that the Panel should help in improving relations between Turkey and Israel.

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General said that right at the outset, not just here.  He reiterated it here.  That’s not new.  He’d said it before.  I don’t remember getting questions about that before.  It’s fairly straightforward.  It’s fairly straightforward that Turkey and Israel have good relations.  They are both important countries in that part of the world.  I think that’s fairly self-evident.

Question:  A Panel of Inquiry into an incident in which people died — this is their mandate.  What does improving relations have to do with that?

Spokesperson:  Well, you know very well what the different steps are, including avoiding incidents of the same kind in the future.  One way to help avoid incidents of that kind in the future would be improved relations between Turkey and Israel.

Question:  Did the Panel yesterday, or will contemplate that today, has adopted an agenda?

Spokesperson:  They’re meeting.  I don’t have any further details on how their meeting is taking shape and how they plan to structure it.  But, as I just said, all four Panel members are extremely distinguished and experienced individuals.  And I’m sure they know how to run meetings.

Question:  This is on the flotilla incident.  The very day of the flotilla incident, there has been marked increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Turkey, the last of which was yesterday, blowing up a pipeline carrying oil to Ceyhan sea port.  Is the Panel trying to also work out about this increase?  Is there any linkage between the incident and the increase in the number of attacks on Turkey?

Spokesperson:  The Panel of Inquiry is looking into the incident of 31 May 2010.


Spokesperson:  Dogan, what I said is that I don’t know the details.  All I know is that the Panel members, the Panel members are meeting.  I do not know who else is present.  If I can find out, I’ll let you know.  But the four Panel members are meeting and they will be supported, I’m not saying inside the room necessarily, but they will, of course, be supported so they can do the job they need to do.

Question:  Any idea how many times they are going to meet until the end of this week or whether they are going to stay another week or five weeks?

Spokesperson:  What we have said, if I remember correctly, is that they will be meeting a number of times through the rest of this week.  And beyond that, I don’t have any details.  If I do, then I’ll let you know.

Question:  Okay, at the end of this week, will anyone give some kind of brief information about what they had done and is there some kind of progress report?

Spokesperson:  Probably not.  Probably not.  There will be, as you know, there is an interim report to the Secretary-General in the middle of September.  And at that point, we will see whether the Panel members wish to say something.  I don’t think that we will hear a lot in the meantime.

Question:  The Security Council President’s statement indicated that it will be absolutely clear-cut investigation, inquiry, transparent.  This transparency doesn’t reflect to the meeting…?

Spokesperson:  Transparent, Dogan, transparent doesn’t mean that they can’t meet and get on with the job they need to do.  They are meeting now for the first time this week.  And they’re trying to establish how they are going to work, what the key areas are that they need to address in what order and so on, a normal way that a group of people coming together for a panel would operate.  That’s not the same thing as talking about transparency.  It’s just efficiency, trying to get the show on the road.

Question:  You’re the Spokesman and even you cannot say whether there are four people or 14 people in the meeting…?

Spokesperson:  Well, there are four…

Question:  Format information and you don’t have it.

Spokesperson:  As I’ve said to you, the most important thing is that the Panel members are meeting.  That’s the most important thing and that’s what I can tell you. 

Question:  As a part of the transparency, which I assume my colleague means, can we follow it as media?  Someone to ask questions, I mean, or is it all closed between here and February, not just this week

Spokesperson:  No, I just said, there’s September coming up too, Khaled.  But there’s a difference, and it’s not as if this is unique.  There have been many other panels in the past, including recent ones, where the panel members do their job.  They don’t speak to the media in the meantime.  They do their job and they focus on the job they have to do and then they report to you.  And you have the report that they have to work on and you also get the chance to ask them questions.  And that has been a pattern in the past and I think that’s how it will be this time.


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For information media • not an official record

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