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Bolton Welcomed As Us Ambassador During UN Reform

New York, Aug 1 2005 3:00PM

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that he looked forward to working with John Bolton, appointed today by President Bush as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. "We will welcome him at a time when we are in the midst of major reform," he told reporters (See below).

"I do know Ambassador Bolton and I've had dealings with him in the past. He's very able and he's very bright," Mr. Annan added in response to questions, recalling Mr. Bolton's work assisting James Baker, the Secretary-General's former Special Envoy for Western Sahara.

Stressing that the coming months were important for the process of UN reform and for relations between the organization and the United States, he said "I've always maintained that the US needs the UN and the UN needs the US. And we have to work together."

In response to press queries about the controversial choice, the Secretary-General said the appointment had been the President's prerogative. If an ambassador comes to the UN with a spirit of give and take, and of listening to others, then that ambassador will succeed, he added

2005-08-01 00:00:00.000

TRANSCRIPT - New York, 1 August 2005 - Secretary-General's press encounter

SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. It was with great sorrow that I learned about the death of [Sudanese] Vice-President [John] Garang. As most of you know, I was there in Sudan on the 9th of July when he was sworn in as the First Vice-President. And at that time, it was such a moment of hope. Here is a man who had lived and fought for peace and one united Sudan. And just as he was on the verge of achieving what he has lived and fought for, he is taken away from us. But what is important is that the Sudanese continue with the process of reconciliation and the process of peace.

I've also had the chance to speak with President [Omar al-]Bashir, who assures me that they are going to move forward with the peace process, and they are going to work very, very closely with the leaders of SPLM to move the process forward. And of course now, it is up to the SPLM to arrange a succession, and I hope that will go smoothly. It is essential that the Movement holds together and joins the Government in Khartoum.

I was also saddened to hear about the death of [Saudi Arabian] King Fahd, a man who has done a lot to develop and build his country. I've had a chance to offer my deepest condolences and sympathy to King Abdullah, to the Government and the people of Saudi Arabia. He is a man of great experience and I'm sure he will be a successful King.

I also noticed this morning that the President has appointed John Bolton as the Permanent Representative to the UN. We look forward to working with him, as I do with the other 190 Ambassadors. And we will welcome him at a time when we are in the midst of major reform.

Q: Secretary-General, the fact that he was not confirmed by Congress, does that weaken his standing in your view here?

SG: I think it is the President's prerogative and the President has decided to appoint him through this process for him to come and represent him. And from where I stand, we will work with him as the representative of the President and the Government.

Q: How concerned are you about the process in Sudan unraveling because of Mr. Garang's death, and is there anything you can do or the UN can do to try and prevent this?

SG: We have offered a very close collaboration with the Government and SPLM, and in fact we've been working with them ever since the crash. It is our plane that is taking the body to New City, and also retrieving the other bodies. So we are on the ground, very actively working with them. And we have made it clear that we will give them all the support and necessary, both in the political process and in our efforts to contain the humanitarian situation and settle the process in Darfur.

From my discussions with the President of Sudan, I gained the impression that they are determined to proceed, and there is the same sentiment on the SPLM side. So there is good hope – I have good hope – that this will hold together. And we should all do whatever we can to ensure that it doesn't unravel.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, there have already been reports of rioting in parts of Sudan, and two people possibly killed. Would you have any appeals to the Sudanese people and also would you expect that any successor to John Garang would also be immediately installed as First Vice-President?

SG: First, in my discussions with the Sudanese, I appeal for calm. They should remain calm. All indications as of now seem to indicate that it was an accident, and the Government and the UN and all of us are working to try and sort things out. They should remain calm, and I think it is essential that SPLM moves ahead very quickly to appoint a new leader. They have two weeks in which to do that. But I hope they will do it as quickly as possible. And I suspect once they have elected their leader, who presumably would also be the head of Southern Sudan, that individual would be the new First Vice-President.

Q: La mort de John Garang ne risque-t-elle pas de mettre à mal le processus de réconciliation? Et deuxième question, on parle donc de mauvais temps et comme vous savez l'hélicoptère s'est écrasé dans une zone ou l'Armée de Résistance du Seigneur (LRA) sévit. Et on sait que cette armée de résistance du seigneur et financé par Khartoum pour miner la paix au Darfour.

Est-ce que l'ONU va établir les faits et demander une enquête pour qu'on sache ce qui s'est réellement passé?

SG: D'abord, je crois que évidemment la mort de John Garang complique la situation, c'était un homme charismatique qui était leader de son peuple. Evidemment ce n'était pas attendu, ça crée un problème réel. Je crois qu'on va pouvoir surmonter ça. En ce qui concerne l'accident, j'ai dit que tous les éléments qu'on a aujourd'hui indiquent que c'est un accident. Evidemment si le gouvernement décide de monter une enquête, et on nous demande d'aider, on sera prêt à le faire.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the US administration has made it quite clear throughout this process on John Bolton that on the issue of reform they need somebody who could push or force reform through. What kind of reaction would you have to that, if somebody's going to come here and try to push and force reform through? And beyond that, the issue of Security Council reform might very well rest on an African Union Summit that begins in a couple of days. What message do you have and what hopes do you have from that Summit?

SG: I think it is alright for one ambassador to come and push. But an ambassador always has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced, or a vast majority of them, for action to take place. And so I think if one comes with that spirit, that spirit of give and take, that spirit of listening to others, that spirit of working with them in a collaborative manner to seek something that is mutually acceptable, that ambassador will succeed.

On the question of Security Council reform, I know that the African Union is planning a Summit on the 4th of August on this issue. As you know, I'm one of those who have been in favour of Security Council reform. There are two proposals on the table and my sense is that vast majority of the members of the Organization would want to see expansion of the Security Council. The debate now is what form of expansion. And I hope that would be resolved in the next week or two.

Q: Secretary-General, how familiar are you with Ambassador Bolton? Have you had many dealings with him? And also, what would you consider the top priorities in terms of the US-UN relationship at this point?

SG: I do know Ambassador Bolton and I've had dealings with him in the past. He's very able and he's very bright. In fact the last time we had professional contact was when he assisted my Special Envoy, Mr. James Baker, on the Western Sahara issue. He did work with Mr. James Baker on that.

I think on the question of UN-US relationship, first of all, I've always maintained that the US needs the UN and the UN needs the US. And we have to work together. I think, in the coming months, it is important that we work together to achieve the major reforms that are on the table, that have engaged so many other members, whether it's the broad reform including management, human rights, Security Council -- we need to work together to achieve that. And I think we also need to strengthen our understanding between the two organizations. I think it's frayed a little recently, and we should be able to get it back again.

Q: Secretary-General, do you believe that he arrives here as “damaged goods”, as some in the US Senate have claimed?

SG: I'm not a member of the US Senate. But let me say that, as I said, we will work with him as we worked with other American Permanent Representatives.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General two questions: one, if you learned of the news from the news or if [US] President [George W.] Bush or Secretary of State [Condoleezza] Rice called you? And are you particularly concerned if something comes through the United Nations, for example Security Council reform, that needs to be approved by the Congress, are you particularly concerned that Bolton will not be able to convince them?

SG: I listened to the news when the President announced it. When he was first nominated, Secretary of State Rice gave me a head's up before the announcement.

Obviously, if there were to be Charter amendment, two-thirds of the Member States will have to ratify it, including all the Permanent Five. And I would hope, when it comes to that ratification, the burden will not only fall on the Permanent Representative here, but on the Administration as a whole.

Q: On John Garang, you knew him pretty well. What will you remember most about him?

SG: He is larger than life, rather charismatic, and who believed in his mission with all his being. And as I said, he lived and fought for his dream. And just as he was on the verge of it, he lost his life. And I remember vividly on the 9th of July in Khartoum, when he stood there and said in Khartoum, “Sudan will never be the same. Not only Sudan will never be the same, 6 million people came to Khartoum to welcome me; 6 million people have voted with their feet for peace, and we cannot let them down. Let's move ahead with the peace process in the north, in the south, in the west and in the east.” And I hope that spirit, that legacy from Garang, will stay will all the people of Sudan, whether they are from the north or the south, or the east or west. They should make peace irreversible in Sudan and work to bring stability to this troubled land.

Thank you very much.


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