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Bolton Breifing On UNSG Selection & Other Matters

Briefing on the Selection of the Next Secretary-General, and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
September 27, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: I am very sorry, first off about the confusion because I had to do this other meeting. And I did -- I had a -- I think -- a very productive meeting with Serge Brammertz on his investigation, going over various aspects of his report which we discussed the other day and preparing for his presentation of the Security Council on Friday. With that: ladies and gentlemen?

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, can you give us an update on the discussions over, you know, red card versus no red card? Are you eager to see this thing wrapped up if there is a conclusive vote in the Council tomorrow?

Ambassador Bolton: Well I think that we're going to have discussions within the Council today on how to proceed and one of the issues is whether there should be a distinction between the ballots of the permanent members and the non-permanent members. Our view is that there should be. I think we've reached that time in the decision making process. I think both for the candidates and for all of the governments on the Council. It would be useful to know where the permanent members stand at least anonymously but to know where they stand compared to the non-permanent members, since when we go to an actual vote, a no vote by a permanent member amounts to a veto. There is some disagreement within the Council on that point, we'll try and thrash that out today. But our view is that we've been at this since late July in terms of straw ballots, it's now the end of September. We've said for some time, we want to try and reach this decision by the end of September or early October. So I think there have been -- plenty of time has elapsed that we could go to a differentiated ballot.

Reporter: Why yesterday did you, again, accent the aspect of the job being a chief administrative officer? Which you have said before, but there seemed to be a reason -- was it the quote from Ban Ki- moon about "I see myself traveling and I see a deputy here …" What was the reason?

Ambassador Bolton: I am an original intent kind of person and the words of the Charter say a "chief administrative officer" so those are the words I read.

Reporter: What about the timing?

Ambassador Bolton: Because I was asked the question by an intrepid reporter.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, I mean the Charter does also say that a member of the Council should -- (unknown interruption) -- I am asking a question. The Charter does also say that the Secretary-General should bring any issue he deems important to the Security Council. So isn't there some room there, enshrined in the Charter as well for him to be a sort of a diplomat-in-chief?

Ambassador Bolton: Sure, but the job description is 'chief administrative officer".

Reporter: Ambassador, look at the 1267 committee report that has come out. One of the things I wanted to call your attention to is it said "Al Qaeda and Iraq has gained by continuing to play a central role in the fighting and encouraging the growth of sectarian violence and Iraq has provided many recruits and an excellent training ground." Also, it says "new explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of first appearing in Iraq."

Doesn't this report seem to support the National Intelligence Estimate? Saying that the war in Iraq is making the problem worse not better?

Ambassador Bolton: Let me put this to you this way: If you said after the attack in Pearl Harbor, that the American response had increased violence in the Pacific, you would be right, wouldn't you? Because violence did increase after the attack and after our response. When you are in a war, that's what tends to happen and you know, I think you can read the declassified portions of the NIE and see the scope of the assessment that was made. We are in conflict with international terrorism and the nature of that conflict is playing out in Iraq.

Reporter: (Inaudible) Mr. Brammertz. Can you tell us more, did you discuss the tribunal, the Syrian cooperation?

Ambassador Bolton: Well we discussed the whole range of issues and how we could be supportive of his investigation. I expressed our continuing support for it and for the work that he and his team are doing and I think beyond that I'll withhold any comment until he briefs the Council.

Reporter: Ambassador, what do you think of the propriety of appointing new ASG's 12 weeks before the end of the Administration? And also, could you comment on all kinds of reports about you being appointed to a new job and therefore brought in here as the head of Mission.

Ambassador Bolton: In terms of new appointments in the Secretariat, you know as long as their contracts expire shortly after the first of January, I don't have any objection to it. Our view is that the new Secretary General should have maximum flexibility in selecting his or her own team and that that's very important to give the new Secretary-General the flexibility that they will need in order to manage the affairs of the organization correctly and as I've said with respect to the second question, repeatedly, I don't comment on those sorts of things but we'll see what happens.

Reporter: Did you just meet recently, or just a while ago, with Dr. Surakiart of Thailand?

Ambassador Bolton: I did indeed, yes.

Reporter: Was this your first meeting with him?

Ambassador Bolton: No, it was about my fifth meeting with him, as a matter of fact.

Reporter: What's your impression of him as a candidate?

Ambassador Bolton: We have know him, the United States has known him well from his time as Foreign Minister of Thailand. He's spent a good part of his educational time in education and part of his professional career in the Unites States, part of his family was born in United States. We know him very well.

Reporter: How about Mr. Ban Ki-moon?

Ambassador Bolton: We know him very well too. He's spent a good deal of his time in the United States. Posted in Washington, posted in New York. I first met him during the Bush 41 administration when we helped secure the joint admission of North and South Korea to the Untied Nations. So, we've always had the highest professional regard for him.

Reporter: On the Congo. In the discussions in the Council, did you discuss whether there was a possibility still of having elections in time, by the timetable of October 29.

Ambassador Bolton: That's still the intention, still to proceed with that.

Reporter: Do you expect that to happen still?

Ambassador Bolton: That's still the course that we're on.

Reporter: Myanmar had some harsh words for the U.S. in the General Assembly. I wondered if you had a comment and that as the discussion approaches on Friday and the status on the resolution.

Ambassador Bolton: I didn't hear what Myanmar had to say in the General Assembly. I'm sure I'll read it in due course. We're looking forward to Under-Secretary-General Gambari's briefing, and in light of that briefing and our expectation that he plans a trip to Burma soon, we'll be considering what our next steps in the Council will be; when and how we'll move to the next step.

Reporter: Similar North Korea also said the United States is really responsible for it wanting to arm itself and the United States is at fault for why North Korea will not return to the 6 party talks. Do you have any response on that?

Ambassador Bolton: Ho-hum.

Reporter: Now that the GA is wrapping up, can you give us a --

Ambassador Bolton: It's not wrapping up -- it ends in the middle of December.

Reporter: Sorry the annual --

Ambassador Bolton: General Debate, that's the phrase you're looking for

Reporter: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. I appreciate that.

Ambassador Bolton: Anything I can do to help.

Reporter: Any overarching impressions? Been a lot of calls for Security Council reform again, what do you take from the General Debate that has just wrapped up or is just wrapping up as we speak?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't have any thoughts on that subject.

Reporter: Ambassador on Lebanon, there have been repeated statements from Hezbollah, Iran,and Syria that nobody can disarm Hezbollah. If this continues, what are the next steps to take? Do you consider another resolution?

Ambassador Bolton: Well I think I've said several times that in putting together Resolution 1701 we made the deliberate decision not to address the issue of disarming Hezbollah in what became 1701. But what that meant is that we would inevitably come to it in due course thereafter. And I think there's no way that you can fully implement 1559 without disarming Hezbollah and ending this armed force that's not under the control of the democratically elected government of Lebanon. So it's an inevitability. How and under what circumstances and what modalities are adopted remain to be seen. But we will come to it, no question about it.

Reporter: How is the United States going to proceed to implement this targeted sanctions against Sudan, which the Panel of Experts has just said the Sudanese basically just aren't doing?

Ambassador Bolton: Well we're in discussions about that now. You may have seen Secretary Rice's speech today on the Sudan, and we'll be sending Andrew Nazios, the new special envoy out there in due course, so I think we're working on a variety of fronts not just on the sanctions but we've introduced the resolution to extend the panel of experts and I expect that will be adopted by Friday.

Reporter: Ambassador, following up on Lebanon, there have been several reports and an interview with Pellegrini in the Jerusalem Post and the New York Times that basically UNIFL commanders are saying "we're not going to confront even if there are trucks going down with weapons to Hezbollah, we're not going to confront them." Do you think that's how you implement 1701?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't read the concept of operations or the rules of engagement that way. I think Secretary Rice said the other day, she thinks they're quite robust rules of engagement that don't require excessive deference on the ground, but I think those are things that need to be worked out. I think this is principally something the commanders have to be aware of, and we're certainly looking into that.

Reporter: Do they have to report to the Lebanese government every time they need to do something?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't read it that way. I think they've got their authority from the Security Council, but we want to be sure that operational control in the field is clear and the lines are clear and I don't want to second guess it from back here without more information.

Reporter: Ambassador, regarding Iran's disputed nuclear program, how would you describe the current state of play of efforts to resolve that?

Ambassador Bolton: The European Union representative, Javier Solana, is meeting with Ali Larijani in terms of their ongoing efforts and expect we'll hear back from them. We've made it very clear that the United States is not going to participate in negotiations until Iran complies with both the resolutions with the IAEA board of governors in resolution 1696 and that they have to verifiably suspend all uranium enrichment activities, all uranium enrichment activities. So I think we are, we will not have much more time go by before we'll be here in the Security Council absent some decision and implementation of that decision by Iran to stop enrichment related activities.

Reporter: May I just ask you regarding the Thai candidacy, do you expect there will be any complications given the coup in that country?

Ambassador Bolton: Well one of the subjects of one of our conversations was the discussions he had in Bangkok with the military government about their commitment of a prompt return of democracy and the restoration of the constitution which he felt was important that he have before he went forward with his own candidacy and he did receive those assurances and I've urged him to communicate, not just to me but to other members of the Security Council which I think he's going to do. I'll just take one more.

Reporter: (Inaudible) does that mean that the U.S. is happy with the current field? Is the U.S. interested in another candidate coming forward or is there someone lurking because once the veto --

Ambassador Bolton: Well, you know every candidate makes his or her own tactical choice, some come in early, some come in late. That's a decision each candidate has to make on his own, that's a political decision that's really up to them. But we have said, -I've said since February when the United States was president of the Security Council. We wanted an early election of the Secretary-General. My original thought was some time this summer, being a compromising person I agreed we could do it in late September, early October. It's now late September, it's going to be early October next week. It's time to come to a decision and the reason for that timing is we want the new Secretary-General to have a full and adequate transition period. Several of the candidates hold significant positions in their national government, so they've got two transitions. They've got to transition out of the position they now hold. They've got to transition into the position of the Secretary-General. That requires time. Some of them, most of them would have to relocate to New York. That's a personal burden on themselves and their family. We want adequate time for that. We're at the point where we should make a decision.

Reporter: Ambassador, with the general debate just ending, I wondered - and so many speakers with an anti-American message; I just wondered how you felt, how you saw your role now in trying to change some of the attitudes that you have heard in this week and a half.

Ambassador Bolton: I did not detect any major change in the tone of the speeches in the general debate and that's consistent with the environment that we've seen here for a long time. No doubt about it. Irwin, just for you, one more question.

Reporter: Just on Richard's question. Are you aware of candidates who are lurking there still, thinking of jumping in at this point?

Ambassador Bolton: I am aware that the great mentioner has mentioned a number of candidates. Some of them have been approached by individuals to ask if in fact they are interested and they said no, others have not given a clear signal. But again, my point has been that we have urged for quite some time that the Security Council and the General Assembly make a decision in late September, early October, so that the new person would have a good two and a half, three month for transition period. And we are at that point. I am not going to give advice to candidates or perspective candidates about whether they should jump in or not, but we are ready to vote.

Reporter: (Inaudible) we are going to veto anybody, so you can wait. It is getting a little close, someone -- knowing that the U.S. is eager for a vote would have to be playing it really cool and chilly so far to wait -- do you get a sense that the perm five members are --

Ambassador Bolton: As I said yesterday, and some of you heard and perhaps some of you did not. I would not want to exclude anybody from the opportunity. As I said, with Wang Guangya, with this issue the United States and China see eye to eye.

Released on September 27, 2006


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