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UNSG Press Encounter - Iraq, U.S. & U.K.

New York, 9 September 2002 - Secretary-General's press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ (unofficial transcript)

Q: Welcome back, Mr. Secretary-General.

SG: Thank you very much.

Q: Have you been informed by the U.S. and/or the U.K. that they will make an effort to come to the United Nations with either an initiative in the Security council or by any other means before they take any further military action against Iraq?

SG: Well, I have spoken to both President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, and I would suggest we all wait to hear what President Bush has to say on Thursday.

Q: Have you formulated a response or decided to formulate a response to the last letter, August 14th, I believe from Foreign Minister Sabri, and when can we expect that?

SG: Well, there have been quite a lot of consultations going on; I have just got back and I will be devoting my attention to that.

Q: You must have read today the statement by Mr. Chirac, the proposals that he had given to the New York Times. What do you think of them, and what else are you doing parallel to that? I know you are in touch with leaders, but are you in touch with the leadership in Iraq?

SG: I saw, as you know, I spoke to Vice Premier Tariq Aziz in Johannesburg, just a week ago.

Q: Since?

SG: And I have not spoken to any of them since. I read President Chirac's statements, and I knew his views because I had spoken to him in Paris last Friday, and so I was not surprised to see what he said. I think it is important to stress that the [Security] Council, which has been seized with this Iraqi issue for so long, should have something to say. I think it is appropriate that the Council pronounces itself on the issue.

Q: What consequences would bring an eventual conflict against Iraq?

SG: Well, it is difficult to predict. I know many people are worried about unexpected consequences, and the question is – the morning after. I would not want to throw out any guesses, but I am concerned as well.

Q: What do you mean about worries about the morning after? Can you be more specific?

SG: What sort of Iraq do we wake up to after the bombing, and what happens in the region? What impact could it have? These are questions leaders I have spoken to have posed.

Q: On Cyprus Mr. Secretary-General, are you more optimistic after the meetings you had in Paris?

SG: Well, let's say I encouraged the leaders to press on and to try and make progress, because I genuinely believe that there are answers to the issues that they are grappling with. I have asked them to work hard in the next couple of weeks and I expect to receive them here in New York on the 3rd of October. They will join me here on the 3rd and 4th of October, for us to see where we stand and what further steps need to be taken. But the discussions were frank and they were useful, even though I cannot say that there was a breakthrough, and I had not expected a breakthrough, when I met them in Paris.

Q: Is there a deadline now on Cyprus? We had a deadline for June; now is there any other deadline?

SG: Well, I want them to do it as soon as possible, and hopefully by the end of the year.

Q: Just one more question. This body of evidence which is being assembled now, particularly by the British and the American governments, how persuasive do you find it at this stage?

SG: I haven't seen the evidence yet.

ENDS

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