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Bolton: Somalia, N. Korea, Nepal, Lebanon & Burma

Remarks on Somalia, North Korea, Nepal, Lebanon and Burma

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
December 1, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: Let me just say that I informed the council this morning that the United States will circulate a draft resolution on Somalia within a few hours. This resolution will call for endorsing the efforts of the IGAD states and the African Union to deploy a peacekeeping force in Somalia, and support a partial lifting of the arms embargo for purpose of assisting the force and associated training. We'd like to make this expression of support for these efforts to bring stability to Somalia, obviously something that's been of interest to the United States for quite some time.

We expect probably an experts meeting on Monday, given that people will just be receiving the text this morning, although obviously we're prepared to answer questions and have discussions with interested countries during the day today as well. But this would give them a chance to go back to capitals over the weekend, as I say, and probably have the first experts meeting on Monday. And then we'll proceed as rapidly as we can after that.

Reporter: The reason for the resolution, if you could explain the background of the story for Americans who may not be familiar, who thought Americans came and left Somalia.

Ambassador Bolton: The current situation is that the transitional federal government is under pressure from the Islamic Courts Union movement, and that the stability, such as it is, is in grave peril. And what we want to do is introduce this regional peacekeeping force, endorse the insertion of the regional peacekeeping force, which many of the African states have called for, in order to provide some measure of stability there to permit a political solution.

Reporter: What would you say to those who say that some in the transitional federal government are essentially the warlords and not selected by the Somali people?

Ambassador Bolton: Unlike any other aspect of authority in Somalia that also hasn't been selected by the Somali people, it's a situation where in the interest of preventing further hostilities and associated displacement of persons and loss of life and the rest of it, that we're interested in making this proposal.


Reporter: Ambassador, just to sort of step back a bit, back in the 1990s when there was a humanitarian crisis in Somalia, essentially you saw a coalition of U.S. and Europeans and others go in. Now that Somalia was deemed by -- you know, in this expert panel report to actually be a serious threat to regional if not international peace and security, dragging in the Middle East, the great powers are handing over security to an African country. I'm just wondering what this says about our changing ability to be able to police a very difficult part of the world.

Ambassador Bolton: I'm not sure I have a comment on that.


Reporter: The North Korean -- DPRK Sanctions Committee is going to meet today, and they seem to be rather slowly getting up to speed on their reporting and all the other work they have to do, and it's kind of dragging on for a while.

There's some indication that perhaps some countries might be delaying action in the Sanctions Committee. Do you have a -- does the U.S. have a sense of that, or --

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I don't think it -- the effect of the resolution, 1718, is going to be changed much one way or the other by when the Sanctions Committee meets or doesn't meet. The obligations exist, and numbers of countries have taken important steps to carry it out, not only on the nuclear weapons and ballistics missile programs, but on the luxury goods prohibition as well. So work is continuing. Effects in the real world do not depend, fortunately, on the timing of Sanctions Committee meetings.

Reporter: (inaudible) -- more quickly than others? And why isn't --

Ambassador Bolton: Sure. Some countries have not submitted the reports that are required by Resolution 1718. That's one thing that the Sanctions Committee needs to focus on to get complete reporting in.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, on Lebanon, did you receive a letter from the Secretary General to council members about the implementation of 1701? And usually this was in the form of a report. This time it's a letter. Do you have any understanding why this is so, given the importance of the resolution?

Ambassador Bolton: If he sent a letter, I haven't received it yet.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, you've just adopted a presidential statement on Nepal. Could you tell us the significance of this and what the United States view is on trying to help this new, fragile government?

Ambassador Bolton: The purpose of the presidential statement was to authorize the deployment of an assessment team and some early monitors to Nepal at the request of the government of Nepal to implement the agreement that they've just reached with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), and to indicate that if the Secretary-General returns to the Security Council with a more formal proposal, obviously we would be prepared to consider it. The fact that the government and the Maoists have reached this agreement is a positive sign, and our authorization for the Secretary-General's mission is intended to be in support of the agreement. So that's -- that was the purpose, really, of meeting today. And I think the urgency that we felt was demonstrated by the fact that we did meet on the first day of the month, which in the folklore of the Security Council is a relatively strange thing to do. But we felt it was important to move ahead quickly.

Reporter: What do you think that the United Nations can do to help stabilize this new government or assist it or to --

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think that's part of the purpose of the assessment team. But this is an early indication that we want to be in support of a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Nepal and show that to all the parties and to the people of Nepal. So that's why we wanted to move quickly.

Reporter: On U.N. reform, are you aware of UNDP's director of human resources being reassigned yesterday? And do you think it's appropriate that Kemal Dervis hasn't held a press conference in 14 months?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't have any comment on either one of those points.

Reporter: Just a -- just a follow-up on the Lebanon issue. What would the U.S. look for in a letter from the secretariat about 1701, given all the worries about breaches to that resolution?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we'd like the report, as required by 1701, on what countries have been upholding the requirements of the resolution and what countries have not. But I -- you know, until I see the report, I can't really comment on it.

Reporter: I know you hate press reports, but I know you will answer "you're right" to this question, so if you can avoid that answer. There's a story that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov --

Ambassador Bolton: Any other advice you'd like to give or --

Reporter: Well, that's a whole other issue -- (laughter) -- and I'll receive some also.

Sergey Lavrov allegedly quoted saying "it's time for possibly sanctions on Iran, technology ban, things like that." Have you detected or heard from your colleague, even though it's not here, it's in capitals, that there's some momentum there?

Ambassador Bolton: As I say, the Iran sanctions front has been quiet here. I don't really have anything to add to that.


Reporter: Ambassador, again, this is a slightly meta question, but Somalia has fallen to pieces, Eritrea and Ethiopia are unresolved, southern Sudan is fighting again, Darfur seems to be in another mess, Chad is falling to pieces and the Central African Republic is under threat. We have now got a huge swathe of that part of Africa basically falling apart. You know, how much of a failure of international security is this? How serious is this for the rest of the world? Are we looking at a new kind of Afghanistan-Central Asia type meltdown?

Ambassador Bolton: No answers to meta questions today.

Reporter: On a slightly more practical plane, then -- (laughter) -- in your draft resolution --

Ambassador Bolton: There may not be answers on that, either, but --

Reporter: -- what -- can you tell us what the resolution says about what kind of force the United States would like to see sent there?

Ambassador Bolton: It's an endorsement of the IGAD concept, not converting it into a blue-helmeted force, not paying for it but endorsing, as we have in other contexts, the deployment of a peacekeeping force by a regional organization.

We'll have the draft here in a couple hours.

Reporter: In terms of the countries that would be in it, does it say anything specific about whether the front-line countries, for instance, would be --

Ambassador Bolton: It would be -- no, it would be -- it's confined to endorsing the IGAD -- IGASOM as it's called.


Reporter: Do you have any comment on the demonstrations that are going on in Lebanon today?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think the Hezbollah demonstrations are consistent with what Nasrallah said some weeks ago. It's part of the effort to bring down the democratically elected government. We obviously hope the demonstrations will be peaceful. People have a right to express their political opinions. But in terms of this being part of the Iran-Syria inspired coup d'etat against the government of Lebanon, we're obviously quite concerned about it.

Reporter: Sir, what about the colored revolutions that the U.S. does on a regular basis around the world? Basically, some Hezbollah officials have said that that's been the inspiration for the techniques that they're using. They're even using the color orange.

Ambassador Bolton: Good for them.

You know, the point is that the government of Lebanon is democratically elected --

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: -- and the Hezbollah organization is a terrorist organization.


Reporter: On Somalia. Your earlier draft was criticized by various groups as adding to the instability in Somalia, not making it more stable. What do you think the current draft does to make the country more stable?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I'll give you a meta answer to that question. You know, people criticize us when we take action on the ground, that our taking action makes the situation worse. Okay, so what is the answer, not to take action?

Reporter: Ambassador, what's the status of the Myanmar resolution, and are you planning to talk about it --

Ambassador Bolton: Yes, I expect we're very close to circulating something on Burma. And I don't think it will be today, but it could be by the end of the day or certainly early next week.

Reporter: On Somalia, what's going to be the ramifications of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and apparently Uganda having violated the previous arms sanctions -- arms embargo on Somalia?

Ambassador Bolton: You know, it's a very complicated situation. This resolution is a step toward resolving it, but we're not -- we don't pretend to say that this resolution alone will be a complete solution. A lot more work remains to be done. It's a very complicated situation. See you.

Released on December 1, 2006


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