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Annan's "Off The Cuff" Comments On Roadmap

New York, 30 April 2003 - Secretary-General's press encounter following the Security Council meeting on the role of the UN in post-conflict situations (unofficial transcript)

SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As you know, the Quartet has handed over formally the Road Map to the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority. Obviously they would wish to review the document and the Quartet would want to discuss with them the next steps in the implementation of the Roadmap. Obviously this Road Map I believe offers the two parties a chance to bring an end to a long and painful conflict and I hope as we press ahead with its implementation, both parties will embrace it and see it as an opportunity to put an end to this conflict.

Q: Do you have any misgivings whatsoever about the Road Map, that's number one, and number two, in the Council earlier, you talked about the need to end the isolation of the Iraqi people as soon as possible. Does that mean that you are calling for the lifting of the sanctions?

SG: Let me say, on your first question, which was on the Roadmap, I believe the Roadmap does really offer a chance for us to move forward, and it is a product of the four partners – the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the UN. And lots of effort has gone into it. There has been lots of consultations. Obviously the parties may want to, after they have reviewed it, may seek some clarifications, but I think it does offer a real way forward, which I think if it is embraced can move the process forward.

On the question of Iraq, I believe it is important to normalize the situation in Iraq and bring Iraq back into the fold, the family of nations. There is no doubt that the sanctions will have to be lifted and the oil for food will have to be phased out. The question is, when and how it is done and this is an issue that the Members States are discussing.

Q: Would you like to see the sanctions lifted by the 3rd of June?

SG: I think there are interrelated issues which the Council will have to discuss with its partners and then make a judgement. I don't think one can pick an arbitrary date like that, because it is linked with other issues.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the question of the UN role, there seem to be some differences of interpretation of what you were indicating that you would like to see the UN role be. Some interpretations seem to say that the UN might play a role. Others seem to say that you were saying that the United Nations is the only one who has the expertise and the international standing to play a role. Could you try and clarify this for us?

SG: I think I have made it clear that the UN has experience and can play an important role, but obviously it has to be agreed amongst the members, and this is also being discussed in the Council and in capitals, and this includes the coalition members. There has been some assumption in some quarters that the UN wants to do everything, which is definitely not the case. I mean, there are areas where the UN has experience, where the UN has performed in other crisis areas where we could be called upon to play a role. For example, take the question of security, I don't think the UN would want to take on that. There has been a suggestion that the UN wanted to take over Iraq and run it, which was also not the case. But we have indicated areas – we are now doing the humanitarian coordination. We do have expertise in political facilitation, in working with others on reconstruction, on human rights, education, and there are lots of areas that the UN has capacity to bear, and that can be useful to the process.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, a lot of the experts agree that some of the expertise that the United Nations in the past has exercised has to do specifically with setting up conferences, setting up meetings on the road towards building some sort of sustained transitional government as you have done with Afghanistan and other areas. In the meantime there is progress on the ground, and there has been no UN representation whatsoever. How crucial is it that the United Nations have a representative in those meetings, and by what date?

SG: I think what is happening now is, as you have said, there have been these meetings on the ground which are intended to identify Iraqis who may form an interim authority. I hope that is not the end of the road and that it will open up into a broader process, a broader process which would also eventually include the drafting of a new constitution and preparation of elections and holding also consultations with the regional neighbours. And hopefully in this process the UN will have a role to play, which we have done in the past. I think in this stabilization phase I notice that it is a US-run process – they have brought in quite a lot of Iraqis and I think the meeting in Baghdad seems to have had lots of representatives, but I hope this is not the end of the road of the political process.

Q: Mr. Secretary, one more follow up if I might. There is also indication, very strong indication that the United States is going forward with their inspections teams, with absolutely no regard for what the United Nations might want for this, and in fact they are tripling the number of people they have on the ground. Are you concerned about the fact that there is still a mandate that the Security Council has, that the members of the IAEA and UNMOVIC go back in and yet they are being left out of this process?

SG: Yes, I think those mandates you refer to are still valid, unless the Council modifies them somehow. The US troops are now searching for these weapons. It is my hope that at some date in the future the UNMOVIC and the [International] Atomic [Energy] Agency inspectors would be able to continue their work and perhaps cooperate with the efforts that the US troops have made. For example, they may be called in to work with them in verifying what they have found and that would also help them fulfil their mandate, of certifying to the Security Council that Iraq has been rid of weapons of mass destruction. Of course there is another aspect of the resolution which the Council will have to deal with, because originally ongoing monitoring was supposed to continue. Would we have ongoing monitoring or would the Council take another decision?

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the Road Map, you talk about today being the day when the Road Map is published. Is that going to be literally true, are you really going to publish the Road Map, are we going to see it on a piece of paper so we can all read it and see what everyone's supposed to do under it?

SG: Yes, I think it has now been given formally to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and my expectation is that, given that this has been done, that it is going to become a public document.

Q: When would we get that, soon I hope?

SG: I hope so. I can't give you a specific answer but I hope so.

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