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Bolton on Cote d'Ivoire and Other Matters

Briefing on Cote d'Ivoire 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
November 1, 2006

USUN PRESS RELEASE #314


Ambassador Bolton: Well, we're very pleased the Council was able to adopt Resolution 1721 unanimously. I think the changes that were made in the negotiations make it a much more effective resolution. And so we were pleased that there was the decision taken on a unanimous basis. And, hopefully, this will result in some progress in Cote d'Ivoire so we can have the election and have a successful conclusion to a UN peacekeeping operation.

Reporter: You don't sound that convinced.

Ambassador Bolton: I'm convinced.

Reporter: Are you confident that this resolution will help the disarmament process?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, it's certainly intended to carry through on the process that was started some time ago. And I think there is a feeling that it's gone on for a long time, and it's -- we need to get the Ivorian parties to the point where they reach sufficient agreement we can proceed with the election. It's part of our feeling that peacekeeping operations should come to a conclusion. And that's why we're hopeful that this time we actually will have an election.

Reporter: Ambassador, on another matter, last week there was a --

Ambassador Bolton: Well, hang on a second. Let's finish on this resolution, which people have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of.

Reporter: Did you hear the ambassador just now from the Ivory Coast? He seems to say that the prime minister has less powers than the resolution indicated.

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think, obviously, this is an indication that we need the Ivorian parties to reach agreement on proceeding. And this is intended -- this resolution now I think more closely intended to follow the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council that reflected the division within the Security Council among the African members and within the African Union itself. But that's what they agreed on on October the 17; that's what we think this resolution will now track.

Reporter: And how was the compromise reached?

Ambassador Bolton: The sponsors backed away from some of the provisions that had led a number of governments to think about abstaining. So we were pleased that the modifications were made; we think they were substantial modifications, they were modifications we were seeking. And that led us to the point where we were happy to support the resolution.

Reporter: So, specifically in this resolution what does it do differently that gives a chance of the Ivorian peace process actually getting back on track and working?

Ambassador Bolton: It's an effort to reinforce the mediation by the African Union and ECOWAS, and it was our judgment that politically that had the most viable chance to be successful and not to go beyond what ECOWAS and the African Union had agreed. That's basically the result we have in this text.

Reporter: The Ivorian ambassador seemed to indicate that even if the elections weren't held within a year, that under the constitution, the president remains in power until elections are held; that if war required that it be longer, it be longer. Is that your understanding?

Ambassador Bolton: I'm not an expert on the Ivorian constitution.

Reporter: Ambassador, could I ask another question?

Ambassador Bolton: Sure.

Reporter: Last week there was a committee-level vote on a global arms treaty, and a number of countries supported this idea of a global arms treaty or opening up negotiations on conventional weapons, of a trade treaty. The United States was the only country that voted against this. Could you please explain what is the rationale of the U.S. on this?

Ambassador Bolton: In the statement I assume we have posted on our website, contains the rationale.

Reporter: (Inaudible) the standards of an agreement between Venezuela and uh -- and uh -- Cote -- and uh --

Ambassador Bolton: Cote d'Ivoire, yeah.

Reporter: Cote d'Ivoire!

Ambassador Bolton: GRULAC finally comes to a compromise.

Reporter: -- to withdraw their candidacy, is there any compromise candidate that you would oppose, such as Bolivia?

Ambassador Bolton: Let me -- let me just say I spoke with Foreign Minister Rosenthal this morning, and I think any -- and he had had a meeting with the Venezuelan foreign minister. They have another meeting scheduled for this afternoon, may still be going on. If there's any outcome to that meeting, I really think it's up to the two foreign ministers -- or from our point of view, the foreign minister of Guatemala -- to announce it. So that's really all I have to say on that subject.

Reporter: But what about a compromise candidate? Would you support or oppose anyone in particular, such as Bolivia, which the Venezuelans have put forward?

Ambassador Bolton: I have said my piece on that subject.

Reporter: Just following the statements today of the U.S. on Syria and Hezbollah and Iran's plot to overthrow Hariri --

Ambassador Bolton: This is not about The Financial Times headline this morning of -- in their edition in the west --

Reporter: No.

Ambassador Bolton No, it's not? Okay. Yeah.

Reporter: But I'm just wondering -- following whatever information of whatever plot the U.S. has got, are you going to be looking for any specific action here at the Security Council level?

Ambassador Bolton: I think I -- I think the statement from the White House this morning spoke of mounting evidence of the possibility of an effort against the Lebanese government. And I think the continued violations of 1559 and of 1701 are part of that evidence base. And it's one of the reasons why we want to accelerate our support for the democratic government of Lebanon. And I think the purpose of the announcement was to call attention to the growing danger that Iran -- that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are posing by their unwillingness to comply -- their repeated unwillingness to comply with Security Council resolutions.

Reporter: Are you meeting Mr. Jumblatt for this case?

Ambassador Bolton: I understand he will be in New York later this week, and if -- I think he -- if it works out, I'd be pleased to see him.

Reporter: Not today, then?

Ambassador Bolton: Not today, no.

Reporter: Just to follow up, is there any possible consideration at some stage, if this threat continues to grow, of strengthening the mandate of the U.N. force, UNIFIL Plus, of moving into Chapter VII territory, that kind of thing?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't want to speculate on what steps might follow. We're very eager to see UNIFIL plussed up to its authorized mandate in 1701. And you know, we've been working with another -- number of governments to help them deploy their forces into Lebanon more rapidly.

Reporter: Following up on that, following up on that, there were some incidents recently between the Israelis -- the Israeli jets and several forces on the ground, as well as threats. Is it part -- are you concerned that there are too many players on the ground there and too much opportunity for friction?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't see any evidence of that at this point … at this point. I just …

Reporter: You said …

Ambassador Bolton: Yeah.

Reporter: Ambassador, you've said that the secretary-general shouldn't appoint any new senior officials beyond his term of office at the end of the year. But on the World Food Programme, you seemed to say that he should appoint somebody for a five-year term. Can you explain that?

Ambassador Bolton: I think I've said in response to that question, which I've answered before, that the precedents for the appointment of the executive director of the World Food Programme have varied. In some cases, the outgoing secretary-general and the director general of the FAO have made the appointment. In some cases, the incoming Secretary-General has made the appointment because the terms are five years. In 1991, Javier Perez de Cuellar and the director general of the FAO appointed Cathy Bertini for a term beginning on January 1, 1992. That's one example of the outgoing secretary-general doing it. There are examples to the contrary as well.

Our position on that is that we think Undersecretary Sheeran should receive the appointment and by this Secretary-General. Reporter: And should the shortlist be made public as a matter of U.N. reform and transparency?

Ambassador Bolton: I think the shortlist is public because I've seen it in newspapers. Any other questions?

Reporter: What evidence do you have that there is weapons coming to Lebanon, to Hezbollah --

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think …

Reporter: away from the hearsay which Mr. Larsen has said?

Ambassador Bolton: Special, well, Special Envoy Larsen did speak that question and said he had reports to that effect from the government of Lebanon.

Reporter: But he did not specific whose.

Ambassador Bolton: And, no, but that's, that was what I conveyed, I think, and he conveyed as well, based …

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: Excuse me, based on his conversations with the government. We have reasons to believe as well that these - that shipments are coming in in violation of 1701. That's a problem. We have expressed ourselves on that. We think that additional weapons have gone to Hezbollah in violation of 1701, and we base that on a number of factors. So see you all later.

Released on November 1, 2006

ENDS


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