Thursday, November 26, 2015

Afghanistan Convenes International Conference on Afghanistan

The first-ever international conference on Afghanistan in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has successfully concluded


The first ever international conference on Afghanistan in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has successfully concluded. The historic event was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and brought together representatives of seventy countries, international and regional organizations, and other institutions. The international Kabul conference marks the beginning of the “Kabul process,” and an increased commitment to a secure, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.

Among the many senior officials participating at the conference included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon; and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Delegations included more than 40 Foreign Ministers, 10 Deputy Foreign Ministers; as well as the heads of relevant international and regional bodies, including North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union (EU), and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Delivering the keynote address at the conference, H.E. President Karzai noted that Afghanistan and the international community shared a common enemy, one which “violates every Islamic and international norm,” and is aimed at breaking the “unity of effort,” as regards Afghanistan’s partnership with the international community.

He also stressed transition to increased “Afghan leadership and ownership” as essential for sustainability of progress.”

While expressing appreciation for international support and assistance, President Karzai urged the international community to focus less on short-term projects, and instead concentrate efforts on specific national programs and projects to “transform the lives of our peoples, reinforce the social compact between state and citizens, and create mechanisms for mutual accountability between the state and international partners.”

He also noted with satisfaction the commitment of Afghanistan’s partners, the United States in particular, to “channel 50% of their assistance through the Afghan national budget in the next two years.”

On security, President Karzai, highlighted the progress made by the Afghan national army and police; and national directorate for security, and reaffirmed his determination for achieving self-reliant Afghan security forces. He underscored in that regard, Afghanistan’s commitment to ensuring responsibility of Afghan security “for all military and law enforcement operations throughout our country by 2014.”

On reconciliation, he asserted that the recent peace-jirga expressed “a national consensus for peace, and framed the terms on which we must reach out to those of our armed opponents who will be willing to accept our constitution and renounce ties to Al-Qaeda’s network of terror.” In that regard, he called the international community to support Afghanistan’s peace initiatives.

In her address, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton echoed the continuing support of the United States of America to Afghanistan. “We have no intention of abandoning our long-term mission of achieving a stable, secure and peaceful Afghanistan,” said Secretary Clinton.

On his part, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted that Afghanistan commended the national action plans, presented by Afghanistan, which “with international support and Afghan resolve, can bring tangible change into the lives of ordinary Afghans: improved security, better standards of living, and an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue, stronger regional cooperation can complement domestic result.” He highlighted, in that regard and among other issues, the “Afghan National Security Policy and the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program.”

The UN Secretary General also reaffirmed the continued support and commitment of the United Nations for Afghanistan, asserting in that regard, that “the United Nations will work and deliver as one.”

PRESS CONFERENCE (near verbatim transcript)

At the close of the Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan

held at the Government Media Information Centre, Kabul

Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General

Kabul – 20 July 2010

President Karzai [unofficial translation from Dari]: Distinguished national and international media, Asalamu Alaikum. I am very honoured to be in front of you with His Excellency Ban Ki -moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. His Excellency is a very trusted and close friend of Afghanistan and a friend who has always been beside us. Today at the closing session of the Kabul Conference, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon narrated a story of 1973, when he was a South Korean diplomat and came to Afghanistan with their Ambassador to inaugurate diplomatic ties with Afghanistan. He talked of Kabul’s beauty and greenness and beauty of the Foreign Ministry’ building to the participants of the Conference. He shared a very good memory with all of us.

Dear media, the Kabul Conference that was (for) several months being prepared for today, Alhamdulillah, it was organized very well and more than 60 countries of the world and 12 international entities, more than 40 Foreign Ministers, heads of foreign organizations and His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, personally attended it.

In this conference Afghanistan put forward their wish for the reforms in our country, strengthening governance, and the transition for the protection of our homeland and security of our people and our borders, and other issues such as our requests from the international community and our appreciation from them were expressed. You witnessed the details today, and I will not go into those details.

I will conclude here with words of appreciation from the international community, and we thank His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, America, Europe, our neighbors, Japan, India, China, Arab countries and those who all participated in this conference. We thank them for their assistance and their efforts through their presence in this conference to make it a success. We thank them for their commitments for this country and for the future of this country.

In brief, this was an extremely successful conference and very much on due time. I hope that Afghanistan and the region will move towards a bright and better future and strengthening of the system. Work that we have not done yet, we will, Inshallah, be able to do it in the near future or in the long-term in the right order and right time.

I once more thank the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for coming here. If there has been any shortage in our hospitality, we apologize for that. Once more we welcome him to our country.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Thank you, Mr. President. Salam Alaikum. Tashakor.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media.

I am glad to be here for today’s conference on Afghanistan. And I thank and I appreciate the leadership of President Karzai and the commitment for peace and security, development, and human rights of Afghanistan under the leadership of President Karzai.

I am honoured that the United Nations has served as co-host together with the Afghan Government. This conference marks the beginning of a crucially important transition. As agreed at the London Conference earlier this year, in January of this year, and again here in Kabul, Afghanistan will now take the lead in shaping the country’s future. Afghans will set the priorities and decide which path to follow. The international community will play a supporting role.

It is thus symbolic that today’s event is the first international conference on Afghanistan to be Afghan-led and held in the country itself.

The Afghan Government presented 23 priority national programmes in the key areas of peace and security, governance and development. President Karzai and his Government have renewed their commitment to deliver real meaningful improvements for the country’s people.

The international community has agreed to realign its efforts behind those Afghan priorities. We have also reaffirmed our long-time commitment to Afghanistan’s well being.

I am encouraged by today’s results. I have urged all partners to make good on their pledges.

The United Nations will do its part.

The people of Afghanistan have suffered greatly for many years. They continue to want only what people everywhere want – jobs, shelter, education and health, their fundamental human rights, safety for their children, the hope of a better future for all.

With the steps taken today Afghans have a better chance to gain a more secure foothold on that path. With them in the lead, and with the right support from the international community, I am convinced we can succeed.

Thank you very much.

Questions and Answers:

Wakht News Agency [unofficial translation from Dari]: My first question is to President Karzai. According to you, what was the main strategic point of the Kabul Conference? And my question to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is, what are the assurances that the commitments of the international community at the Kabul Conference will be implemented?

President Karzai [unofficial translation from Dari]: In today’s conference our agenda included different proposals and the preparedness of Afghanistan towards better reforms in governance and the system in Afghanistan, as well as expectations on Afghanistan from the international community, with assistance from us, in relation to the reforms of contracts, about the private security forces and about the transition of the executive operational powers to our military and security forces, since Afghanistan will assume the entire responsibility in terms of military and security by 2014.

We had a very wide agenda proposed to the international community which was fortunately accepted by the international community and they made their commitments.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Now about the commitments, commitments are mutual. On the part of the international community we committed that we will continue to provide necessary support, political support, socio economic development support and also military support to ensure peace and security here. And we also committed that while the Afghan government will gradually take a greater role and more of an ownership role in transitioning in this period, we will align with national governmental priorities in all aspects, and we will continue to provide long term and sustainable support to help strengthen the capacity of the Afghan people and government. We hope that the Millennium Development Goals, that the Afghan Government will also be able to reach these goals.

In the commitments on the Afghan Government side, President Karzai has rightly explained.

The international community would expect and strongly encourage that President Karzai and his Cabinet will enhance good governance, and address all the socio economic problems irregularities and make reform; socio economical reform and security reform; and there is a good plan by the Ministry of Interior that they will strengthen the national police capacity and also be able to help the national forces of Afghanistan to strengthen their capacity.

So these commitments are mutual and we have agreed that under this commitment and the Communiqué we will continue to work. Now, I am quite convinced that while this transition is made, toward a gradual transition from greater responsibility of Afghanistan, I am sure that the Afghan Government and people will be able to enjoy freedom, human rights and prosperity.

Der Spiegel: You have announced major programmes for reconciliation with the Taliban, which include the leadership of the Taliban. Just in recent days and weeks we have seen intensive efforts by ISAF to target Taliban commanders in which a lot of these commanders were killed. How does this military strategy of the international forces fir with your reconciliation programme?

President Karzai [original in English]: In today’s conference I outlined the decisions of the Afghan Peace Jirga – that was held a month-and-a-half ago – to the international community. And I was very happy to find out that the decisions and recommendations by the Afghan Peace Jirga were endorsed by the international community in a significantly strong way. While these incidents of violence go on, while we continue to fight incidents of terror as well, as they occur against our people, we will continue earnestly and with full dedication the pursuit of the peace process. I am glad today that this peace process was endorsed by the international community.

Al Jazeera: My first question will be to the Secretary-General about the accusation from foreign countries to the Afghan Government on corruption. It is in a time in which more over 70 per cent of the money since 2001 which came to Afghanistan is spent by international donors or by international organizations. As United Nations Secretary-General, can you promise to the people of Afghanistan that you would launch, the way that President Karzai launched an investigation to Afghan officials, an investigation into foreign officials, into where is the money now? My second question will be to President Karzai. Mr President, recently ISAF claims that they have some information that Mullah Omar is in Pakistan, do you have any information on that?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: The first question is the very important area of good governance. We are concerned there is a prevalence of corrupt practices all throughout the country. The international community naturally expects that while the international community will continue to provide socio economic and financial support, this money should be properly used for good purposes, planned purposes. This is what I have been discussing with President Karzai and this is what world leaders are expecting, that President Karzai and his Cabinet Ministers should be fully committed. I am encouraged that President Karzai has stated this morning in his opening remarks that he is committed to reform of judiciary and investigative sectors. Also we want to see the coming parliamentary election on September 18th to be a transparent, democratic and credible one without any irregularities. That is the best way for the Afghan Government to gain confidence and trust from the international community so that their support can flow continuously. Thank you very much.

President Karzai [original in English]:: On the question of Mullah Omar staying in Pakistan, well, we knew all along that some of the very senior leadership is in Pakistan. This is not news for us. This is an old story. While we know this, we are working very hard to improve our relations with our brothers in Pakistan further and further, and to advance the cause of peace and reconciliation and reintegration. These facts aside, Afghanistan will continue to work hard to have the best of relations with our neighbours with our friends, especially Pakistan, and to pursue peace, reintegration and reconciliation as well. Gentlemen and ladies, the Secretary-General and I have to go to lunch with dignitaries that have arrived, so we have time for one more question. And that question will go to a lady, and that lady is from CNN.

CNN: Thank you Mr President and Mr Secretary-General. The date 2014 has been used in this conference today and yesterday. Can you elaborate more as to what that means? Does this mean that the Afghan forces will take on the complete combat role and the international forces will leave? And Mr Secretary-General, can you elaborate on my colleague’s question here: when it comes to the international community, the Afghan Government has now been taking steps to fight corruption, to bring those who are accused of corruption to justice, what’s going to happen to those in the international community. Will there be investigations into them as well?

President Karzai [original in English]:: On the 2014 date, ma’am, Afghanistan has specified its objectives. If you recall, in my inauguration speech to the Afghan people some months ago, I committed to having the ability by 2014 – meaning another five years which by now is almost four years – to reach a level of strength and ability and capacity within our forces to provide for our own security for the population, for the country, for our borders. This is a commitment we have made to the Afghan people and to our international partners, and we hope accordingly the international community will help Afghanistan reach that objective that we are working on very earnestly and with dedication. This is a national objective that we have to fulfill and we must.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: On your second question,I believe that each corruption case should be properly and in a transparent way investigated by Afghan Government authorities. At the same time, I am also concerned that not many such corruption cases have been properly and thoroughly investigated. That is what President Karzai has committed to, to continue to strengthen the capacity and change all these judiciary systems. It would be much more important to prevent such corrupt practices and also create an environment conducive to prevent and not to give any such temptations on the part of business sector or government officials to engage in such corruptive activities. For that to be possible, first of all, we expect the Afghan Government should have institutional reforms and strengthen judicial procedures and provide jobs and to revitalize the economy. That is what the international community is now looking more towards…

President Karzai (interjects) [original in English]:: Mr Secretary-General, she was asking about corruption in the international community. And so was the gentlemen from Al Jazeera.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Of course, I am going there.

President Karzai [original in English]:: In other words they are beginning to be fair.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: When the people are given incentives to engage in proper jobs, when they are educated and institutions are strengthened there is not much room for international corruption to be practiced here. I sincerely hope that international donors and international partners will also take this matter very seriously. They should be able to give aid in an effective way – there should be aid effectiveness, and a transparent manner. By making every procedure in a transparent way, we are able to get rid of all such possibilities.

President Karzai [original in English]: Thank you very much.

[Ends with President Karzai and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shaking hands]

Strategic Communication and Spokespersons Unit

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

Kabul, Afghanistan

Tel: 079 000 6121; +39 083 124 6121


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Afghanistan

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kabul today following the attack on a Kabul guesthouse last week in which five UN staff members were killed and others were injured.


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Afghanistan

Mr Ban will meet UN staff, his Special Representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Kai Eide, heads of UN agencies and security officials.

The Secretary-General will also meet Dr Abdullah Abdullah and President Hamid Karzai to assure them and the Afghan people of the continuing support of the United Nations towards the development of the country and the humanitarian assistance that the UN provides to millions of Afghans everyday.

Last week Mr Ban, in reaction to the attack on the Kabul guesthouse, told a press conference in New York: “Those who gave their lives … came to Afghanistan armed not with guns or bullets. They came with a more powerful weapon – hope. Hope for a better day for Afghanistan and a commitment to help its people build a better world and a better future. We will not be deterred from this noble mission. We stand by the people of Afghanistan today, and we will do so tomorrow.”

Ban Ki-moon has previously visited Kabul in February 2009 and June 2007 as UN Secretary-General.

Secretary-General’s monthly press conference [full transcript]

SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure to see you again.

This is a sad day and a very difficult day for the United Nations.

As you know, militants attacked a UN guest house in Kabul early this morning.

At least 25 UN staff members were there, including 17 women and men of the UNDP election team.

Five staff have been killed and nine wounded according to our latest information.

I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families ? and to our UN family. I have just spoken to my Special Representative, Kai Eide, and conveyed my deepest condolences. I really wanted to be with them on this very difficult and sad day.

The UN team in Afghanistan has lost colleagues and friends. The world has lost women and men committed to the values of peace, dignity and respect for all.

I condemn this shocking and shameless act, and the terrorists who committed this crime. It is unjustifiable by any standard.

If anything, this incident should remind us how tough our job is. Our people work, often selflessly, in the most dangerous places in the world.

Those who gave their lives today came to Afghanistan armed not with guns or bullets. They came with a more powerful weapon – hope. Hope for a better day for Afghanistan and a commitment to help its people build a better world and a better future.

We will not be deterred from this noble mission.

We stand by the people of Afghanistan today, and we will do so tomorrow.

We will, of course, review our security procedures, as we do regularly for the Afghanistan mission as a whole. We will take all necessary measures to protect our staff.

We have also witnessed an appalling bomb attack in Peshawar today. More than 80 people have died, according to our reports. I want to express my outrage at the loss of so many innocent lives.

Before taking your questions, there are some other issues I would like to raise.

First, climate change.

We have only five weeks before the UN conference in Copenhagen on climate change.

There is a long way to go still.

I have been working closely with the Danish Prime Minister, who is in turn engaged intensively with other governments on the substance and form of an agreement that may emerge.

All countries must commit to limit emissions. Developed countries must adopt ambitious mid-term targets. At the same time, developing countries must also limit the growth of their emissions, moving away from a “business as usual” trajectory.

Let me also touch on a few other matters in the news.

In Iraq, we saw a bomb attack earlier this week in which hundreds were killed and wounded. As elsewhere, these acts of violence target the innocent and aim to disrupt the country’s fragile democracy.

In response to a request from the Government of Iraq, I will send Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco to Iraq for preliminary consultations related to Iraq’s security and sovereignty.

We have also seen disturbances at the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound.

Events in Jerusalem can undermine trust throughout the region, and I call upon all to avoid provocative acts. We should see this as a reminder that, in the absence of progress in direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, political tensions in the Middle East will only grow.

The Human Rights Council has now referred the Goldstone Report to the General Assembly, which will consider its findings and recommendations. I look forward to its decision. I have called repeatedly on both the Israeli government and the Palestinians to carry out full, independent and credible investigations.

Meanwhile, ten months after hostilities ended in Gaza, we see no progress on reconstruction or the re-opening of borders. At the donors’ conference in Egypt, we raised $4.5 billion in financial assistance. Little if any of that money has been delivered. Families have not been able to rebuild their homes. Clinics and schools are still in ruins. I urge Israel to accept the UN reconstruction proposals as set forth, recognizing that the only true guarantee of peace is people’s well-being and security.

On Iran: the inspection of the new Iranian enrichment site in Qom, conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency this week, is a positive step. Meeting with President Ahmadinejad in September, I urged Tehran to take this step and cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues.

I also welcome the draft agreement, circulated by the IAEA, related to the supply of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Agreement would constitute an important confidence-building measure and could set the stage for further advances in the negotiations between Iran and the EU3+3.

Let me close where we began, on Afghanistan again.

As you know, the second round of presidential elections is scheduled for November 7.

No one underestimates the difficulties, especially in the aftermath of today’s attack.

At this point, I would simply say that all operational preparations are being put in place to minimize fraud.

If the first round showed anything, it was that fraud does not win. It merely undermines the legitimacy of the results.

Once again, I urge Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Karzai to uphold the law and the Constitution; to encourage participation of the Afghan people; and, after the vote, to work to unify the country around an agenda for progress.

The United Nations is committed to doing all it can to support the Afghan people as they once again cast their ballots and shape the destiny of their country.

Thank you very much, and now for your questions.

Q: Secretary-General, I want to thank you on behalf of UNCA [the United Nations Correspondents Association], for coming here and taking the time to talk to us. There are a lot of issues out there, as you made clear. I wanted to raise quickly two that I know UNCA members care about. The first has to do with climate change. You yourself spoke of an agreement that may emerge from Copenhagen and your climate adviser, Mr. [Janos] Pasztor, spoke earlier this week of the Copenhagen meeting producing a politically-binding agreement that would chart the course for post-Copenhagen talks that would yield a legally binding agreement. Expectations are being pulled way back and we’re just wondering if you don’t find this disappointing.

The second issue has to do with the Goldstone report. There were specific recommendations that were made for you as Secretary-General, but [Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] B. Lynn Pascoe yesterday made clear to us that they don’t see a direct line between the Human Rights Council and the Secretariat in terms of responsibility and obligations. Why is that? If you could explain things on those two. Thank you.

SG: On climate change, I’m still optimistic. This Copenhagen meeting will be an important milestone in our common efforts to address climate change issues. As I have been repeatedly saying, if we can agree on four political elements, then that could be a hallmark of success on climate change. First, ambitious mitigation targets by developed countries — and also by developing countries — on their own nationally appropriate mitigation action. Then there should be a strong adaptation framework to help particular developing countries to mitigate and adapt. And there should be substantial financial and technological support for developing countries, again for their adaptation and mitigation efforts. And fourth, there should be a global framework, a governance framework, to manage all these processes. Now, if we can agree on these four political elements, that will be a fairly good success. Then, immediately, we will have to continue these technical negotiations so that all these agreements can be built upon to make a legally binding and comprehensive and equitable and balanced one. That’s our target and I have been actively engaging myself with world leaders. Even this morning, I had a very good videoconference with Prime Minister [Lars L�kke] Rasmussen of Denmark and other world leaders, and this will continue. I have been engaging myself with many other leaders of countries. Every country — both developed and developing countries — they have a role to play and they have worked together for a common and long-term goal to address this issue. We are not lowering expectations, as you said. We are still keeping ambitious expectations and targets. We will continue to do that. There are some other important negotiation processes remaining in Barcelona. We will have, of course, the Copenhagen process. Before we go there, we will continue to do all we can.

On the second question, Goldstone — as you know, the Human Rights Council is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, thus their report is now in the hands of the General Assembly. I understand that the General Assembly President is now going to hold a General Assembly meeting to discuss this matter. This is what I have discussed with the President of the General Assembly. I met at least twice with the representatives of Arab member countries and, also, I have spoken with the Israeli leadership: I have spoken with the Foreign Minister of Israel; I met the Vice Prime Minister of Israel. And I will continue again to discuss this — as I said in my remarks, I am waiting for any guidelines and decisions or recommendations by the General Assembly for me to act upon.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on Afghanistan, given this turbulent security situation in the country, what do you think of the new Japanese Government’s intention to suspend its refuelling activities in the Indian Ocean? Do you think it would have a negative effect? What else would you want the Japanese Government to do for the betterment of the situation? Thank you.

SG: I appreciate the Japanese Government’s longstanding commitment and contribution to regional peace and security, including Afghanistan, and also their contribution in the Indian Ocean. When I met the new [Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs] of Japan, [Tetsuro] Fukoyama, I asked the Japanese Government to continue their cooperation and contribution, as the Afghanistan Government and the situation in the region is now going through a very volatile and unstable situation. They require the international community’s continued support and cooperation. That’s what I want.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on Iraq: I wonder if you could tell us first whether you are going to recommend that there is a UN investigation of the previous bombings in Iraq that the Iraqi Government asked for and whether perhaps this might be extended to the latest bombing. And I wonder if you could elaborate a little on the mission that you’re going to be sending the Assistant Secretary-General on. What exactly is he going to be doing there and talking to Parliament members about?

SG: First of all, I’d like to make it clear that, to commence an investigation, we need a clear mandate by the Security Council. As you know, the Iraqi Government has requested me to begin such an investigation, but I explained to them, for that to be possible, I need a clear mandate, an official mandate. But before that, I expressed my willingness and, as I have announced this morning, I’m going to dispatch the Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Political Affairs to engage in exploratory consultations with the Iraqi Government. Then we will see.

Q: These are exploratory conversations on the possibility of perhaps a broader investigation, on a wide range of issues?

SG: At this time, I’m not in a position to say anything definitely.

Q: Will your envoy, the Assistant Secretary-General, go to Syria, because our understanding is that Syria rejected your appeal to them or your movement with them to have them receive your Assistant Secretary-General or any envoy?

SG: We will see, after Mr. Oscar Taranco visits Iraq, after initial discussions with the Iraqi Government, we will have to decide, in close consultation with the countries in the region, whether we will expand these consultations with these regional countries.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, about your continued appeals to Israel to respond to the different things you were asking, from the borders to the internal investigations to stopping violations of Lebanon, they seem to be always falling on deaf ear, including that related to Mr. [Richard] Goldstone’s report. And the impression is that everybody is passing the buck when it comes to Goldstone’s report and the Security Council. I understand now that you said you’re waiting for the GA, but can you pronounce yourself on the substance of the Goldstone report — in the sense that, do you feel that this issue, his recommendations regarding both Israel and Palestinians involved in war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity; should this arrive at one point to the Security Council and to the ICC [International Criminal Court]?

SG: I have stated my position in the past. I have clearly stated my support for the Goldstone mission. And I have tried my best to provide necessary administrative and technical assistance for their activities. Now that the Goldstone report was adopted by the Human Rights Council and is in the hands of the General Assembly, I am now waiting for a debate among the General Assembly Member States. And I will decide my own course of action upon that. I have again made my position clear: wherever and whenever there is violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian laws, there should be necessary investigation and the perpetrators of these crimes and violation of human rights should be held accountable. This is what I can tell you at this time. I am aware that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian authorities are now going to have their own investigation. I have not received any further details, but that is positive, I would say. I have been repeatedly urging the Israeli Government to institute a credible domestic investigation process.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you considering scaling back or leaving Afghanistan in the wake of this attack? Do international staff get more protection than the local staff? And on the revelation about Karzai’s brother, does this complicate efforts to eradicate opium, to have a fair election, since he apparently cheated for his brother? And does it hurt international support for the Karzai Government, this revelation?

SG: I was assured by Mr. Kai Eide, through my telephone talk with him this morning, that President Karzai had instructed his Interior Minister to provide strengthened security for United Nations staff there. The United Nations, while we ask the Afghan Government to provide strengthened security, we will also take necessary measures; administrative measures to further strengthen the safety and security of premises and our staff, not only in Kabul, but all other areas where we have seen that the situation is very dangerous.

Q: Anything about Karzai’s brother, do you have anything to say the revelations?

SG: I read the report this morning and a few days ago. That is something I think I’m not in a position to make any comment at this time. But I have been repeatedly urging, whenever I had an opportunity of meeting President Karzai in the past, that he must make sure to eradicate these corrupt practices, including opium cultivation and opium trafficking. I have been repeatedly stating that unless he addresses these corrupt practices prevalent in Afghanistan, it will not be possible to expect to have credible governance. You must have seen me speaking publicly in my press conference together with President Karzai several times, particularly on these issues.

Q: Thank you, Secretary-General. Regarding the Israeli violation, in light of the latest incidents in South Lebanon yesterday and the weeks before and month before, and also on your latest [resolution] 1559 report, there were a lot of concerns on the less balanced reports that you produced last week. And there are these concerns, specifically on the violations, Israeli violations, not too much stressed upon. Do you have any response on that? And also, do you fully support your Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen in this, because also there are concerns about him, about this report?

SG: First of all, the full and faithful implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, including 1701 and 1559 is the foundation and basic principle of ensuring and maintaining peace and stability, as well as prosperity, not only in Lebanon, but in the region. Unfortunately, we have seen many such cases where these resolutions have been violated, as we have seen recently over the last several weeks. The preliminary investigations by LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] and UNIFIL [UN Interim Force in Lebanon] suggested that those were clear violations of 1701. We will try to ensure, to see that these resolutions be implemented. On many occasions, whenever and wherever I have been meeting with the Lebanese and the Israeli authorities, I have been emphasizing and urging them to fully comply with these resolutions. And my Special Representative on Security Council resolution 1559 enjoys my full confidence and trust, and he will continue his functions.

Q: Like Sylviane was saying, there was some straight criticism for Mr. Roed-Larsen yesterday, that he is expanding his mandate and covering stuff that is really not related directly to his mission, and also the criticism that his reports always stress the request of disarming the Lebanese militias and non-Lebanese militias, while only referring very briefly to the Israeli violations. That’s criticism by several countries at the Security Council yesterday of Mr. Roed-Larsen.

SG: All my Special Representatives and Envoys, while conducting their missions, are required and they are in fact doing in close coordination with the relevant departments and concerned governments. And also they conduct their missions strictly under my guidance and instructions.

Q: Secretary-General, you have hundreds of UN staff working in Kabul at the moment directly on the elections. As I understand it, they are now under lockdown, just days before the second round is due to take place. It is now clear that the UN is a direct target, as far as the Taliban is concerned. It is also now clear that the Interior Ministry troops who were meant to be outside that guest house are clearly not doing a good enough job to protect your staff. How on earth can the UN continue to conduct the work that they have been trying to conduct in terms of a second round of elections with any sense of legitimacy at all? Because your staff just aren’t on the ground doing the work they should be.

SG: In principle, we are not and we should not be deterred by these heinous terrorist attacks. We will continue our work, particularly on helping the Afghan Government and people, carrying on this second presidential election, scheduled on November 7th, while ensuring and strengthening the safety and security of our premises. That is what I am going to do, and that is what I have discussed this morning.

Q: But, forgive me, how do you do that? You have hundreds of staff. There is no room to accommodate them inside UN compounds. They have to continue living in Kabul. And it is clear they are not safe.

SG: We have to first of all get the full support of the Afghan Government, the Afghan national security forces, as well as the allied ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] forces there. They are providing us with necessary security. Of course, it is quite an unfortunate fact of life that we cannot ensure one hundred percent security, because of these suicidal terrorist attacks, but we must take all necessary precautionary measures in terms of our security. That is what I can tell you at this time. But we will never be deterred by these terrorist attacks.

Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary-General, the issues that you spoke about today – almost all of them are in the Islamic world. In light of this fact, how well do you work with Muslim governments? How well do you work with the Arab League, with the OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference]? For example, Turkey has peacekeepers in Afghanistan. Do you think that, for example for Pakistan, there should be a Muslim peacekeeping force? How do you coordinate these things?

SG: First of all, what we have seen taking place on the ground should not necessarily be related or understood or interpreted with regard to any specific regional group or ethnicities or group of countries. We are now facing a multiple crisis including international terrorism, which we have to work with. In addition to this we have so many multiple crises – climate change, economic and financial crisis, and food security. I have been working very closely with all the Member States, all the regional groups, and all the countries, and even all the leaders of the world, regardless of where they belong. That is my job, and I will continue to do that. It would be a little bit dangerous to suggest that this is something to do with any particular group of religions, group of people, group of countries. This world is facing many difficult challenges, on which we have to work together.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I had two questions, with regard to both the bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq. First of all, on Iraq, did you make your decision based on the latest bombing in Iraq, Baghdad, because [Foreign Minister] Hoshyar Zubari had requested that you dispatch a special envoy after the August 19th bombing. And also, they recently, within 24 hours of the blast in Baghdad, they started removing blast barriers – does that exactly send the right message in terms of security? And on a security issue, over in Afghanistan, do you believe it would have been better to have the United States step up to the plate and contribute more troops ahead of the elections there?

SG: My decision to dispatch Mr. Oscar Taranco had been considered before this second terrorist attack. Immediately after this August 19th bomb attack happened, I have been consulting with Iraqi Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and other leaders in the region, on what the United Nations can do and should do. Unfortunately a second attack has taken place, and this is appropriate timing for me to expedite his dispatch to the Iraqi Government for initial consultations on how the United Nations can address this issue.

On your second question, I understand that President Obama and his administration are very seriously considering what to do with further military augmentation. That is what the US administration will have to decide. Military augmentation will be one of the effective means to ensure peace and stability there. At the same time, I would also hope that there needs to be a political reconciliatory dialogue initiated by President Karzai with many other ethnic group leaders, and also regional countries’ leaders. That is what I have been saying.

Q: Would it have helped the situation and sent the right signal that the US would have dispatched troops before the coming elections, because you are talking about a security issue here, where your workers have to go out and try to get out there to ensure a good election, so if you have more security forces, would that not help the case?

SG: Ensuring better security to allow the free presidential election so that people will not be intimidated and threatened, that would be necessary and important.

Q: The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel Treatment, Manfred Novak, today was barred from leaving South Africa to enter Harare, Zimbabwe, on a week-long tour. The invitation was essentially withdrawn at the last minute. I wonder what your reaction to this is, and more broadly what your reaction is to the continued strife or strain to the cohesiveness of the unity government in that country?

SG: I will get back to you later for more detailed information on this.

Q: On the Cyprus problem, if you are thinking about getting more involved personally on the issue?

SG: I am reasonably optimistic about the prospect of resolving this longstanding Cyprus issue. I am encouraged by the commitment and continuing negotiations led by the two leaders, Mr. [Dimitris] Christofias and Mr. [Mehmet Ali] Talat. And my Special Adviser, Mr. Alexander Downer, has been continuously engaged and facilitating this dialogue. I hope they will continue their negotiations. Since they have finished the first round of negotiations, then they have a couple of weeks ago entered into a second phase. Now it is time for both leaders to be more seriously considering to make the necessary compromises and show flexibility so that they can move ahead. Through the first round of negotiations I think they have picked up a good political atmosphere on the basis of mutual trust and commitment, and now it is time for them to make real progress, demonstrating flexibility and agreeing on compromises.

Q: Thank you. With reference again, Mr. Secretary-General, to the Goldstone report, I think what would happen in the General Assembly and in the Security Council is reasonably predictable, but it occurs to me that there have been allegations made with reference to the Hamas government that they are hiding behind their own civilian population, that they are putting their military installations, artillery pieces and such, in civilian areas. If these allegations were in fact true, it would be next to impossible to establish that unless you get some colossal group of international whistleblowers, and take them and put them in some kind of international witness protection programme. Without that, do you not think it would be impossible to prove that or establish it?

SG: All the allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law must be addressed and investigated. Whoever may be responsible should be held accountable for that. The Goldstone Report has stated that both these violations committed by Israelis and also committed by Hamas should also be subject to be investigated. This is what he has made findings and made recommendations to the Human Rights Council. I hope that all aspects and all the allegations should be fairly addressed.

Q: Do you have an update, Sir, to your request you made to the Israeli Government over three months ago regarding the compensation they should have paid for damages they made during the Gaza war? And the number of the compensation – it was over eleven million dollars. Do you have an update on that?

SG: As you know, the Legal Counsel has submitted officially the request for financial compensation for the damages inflicted upon the UN premises. This is now, I understand, being considered by the Israeli Government. Last week, when I met the Vice Prime Minister, Mr. [Silvan] Shalom, I raised this issue. And I again urged, in my telephone talk with Foreign Minister [Avigdor] Liberman, that they should expedite this process as soon as possible. I understand that they are considering this issue. I expect that they will come back to me as soon as possible with necessary actions. Thank you.