|USUN Press Release|
United Nations, NYC
November 28, 2006
USUN Stakeout, November 28, 2006 (Somalia)
Released on November 29, 2006
Ambassador Bolton: Okay, why don't we begin?
We're obviously very pleased with the adoption of Resolution 1723, unanimously extending the mandate for the multinational force in Iraq for another year. We received a letter from the government of Iraq requesting this extension on November the 14th. So given that we had the Thanksgiving holiday in there, we're quite pleased that we were able to turn it around and receive unanimous Security Council endorsement in just two weeks.
I think this is a very important decision by the council. It shows the resolve to continue to cooperate with the government of Iraq, and I think it's very fitting that the council has acted just a day or two before President Bush and Prime Minister al-Maliki will meet in Amman. I think it's an important foundation for that meeting, and we were glad we were able to accomplish it in a timely fashion.
Reporter: What did you think of the Russian objections, which have been heard before? But they talked about security and other matters.
Ambassador Bolton: They have been heard before. They've been discussed before. And they voted yes, so that's the most important thing.
Reporter: The Iraqi prime minister, in his letter, requested for UNMOVIC to be terminated, but why wasn't it addressed in this resolution? And how is the mechanism to terminate it, especially that it costs Iraqis so much money?
Ambassador Bolton: Yeah, we have not previously addressed UNMOVIC in the MNF resolutions, and it's certainly the very strong view of the United States that UNMOVIC should be terminated for a variety of reasons. First, it no longer has a mission. And second, it is spending Iraqi money and tying up other funds that could be returned to the government of Iraq. So it's our view that we would look forward to the earliest possible termination of UNMOVIC. There's complete agreement, I think, among the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Iraq on that point.
Reporter: Ambassador, he also, I think, requested the termination of the compensation -- U.N. compensation -- commission. What is the U.S. view of that?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, the -- I would have to look and see exactly what the status of the outstanding claims is, because that is something we felt very strongly about, I can tell you from my own personal recollection in the Bush 41 administration, when we set up the compensation fund. And I'd have to say, standing here today, I'm not familiar with the status of its processing the requests for compensation, and it would obviously be dependent on having completed its work.
Reporter: Is there a date for the consideration of the termination of UNMOVIC?
Ambassador Bolton: No, that's something that we would -- we would have to come up with another resolution on, and it's certainly something we'd like to see done as early as possible.
Reporter: Can I ask on another topic?
Ambassador Bolton: Anything more on Iraq? Okay.
Reporter: Yes. On the Iranian cooperation in this respect, you here observed that the neighboring countries should cooperate. Are there any contacts in this respect between Iran, Syria and the United States?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think we've made it very clear we expect Iran to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq, stop destabilizing the country, stop supporting militias, stop supporting terrorist groups in neighboring countries. So there are a range of things they could do.
Ambassador Bolton: Yeah.
Reporter: Kofi Annan said today that he believes strongly -- the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said today that he believes strongly that there should be a role for both Iran and Syria in Iraq. He urges the Baker-Hamilton commission to recommend that. What's your view on that action towards it?
Ambassador Bolton: We take due note. (Laughter.)
Reporter: On Somalia, can you bring us up to date where you are on the resolution? I heard that there are concerns by some of the European countries that this would sort of in part contradict their own EU policy, but also that there are some reservations. And also --
Ambassador Bolton: I can't --
Reporter: -- the ICG criticism about this triggering all-out war --
Ambassador Bolton: I can't comment on the EU's consideration of its own policy. I could, but I won't.
We are still in consultation over the resolution. We would certainly like to try and move it forward as soon as possible. But we're not in a position to circulate it yet, and that reflects the fact that we're still seeking agreement from a number of countries on some critical points. And when it's ready, it'll be ready -- and it's not ready.
Reporter: The ICG criticism that this would trigger --
Ambassador Bolton: Well, you know, we have -- we have looked at the situation in Somalia, and I think there's pretty general agreement that we need to do something as opposed to just watching the situation deteriorate. But we want to get it right, and when we move we want to be able to move quickly to the adoption of the resolution, which is why the consultations we're engaged in now we think are so important. We're not -- we're not holding it up. We're trying to move as fast as we can; we're just not ready yet.
Reporter: Ambassador, on that same issue, so I understand basically the aim is in some way to provide a force that would help protect the transitional --
Ambassador Bolton: I don't want to get into the specifics -- yeah, I don't want to get into the specifics of what we're considering because that's the subject of the consultation.
Reporter: Right, but -- can I follow up on that?
Ambassador Bolton: Certainly.
Reporter: If that's what you're considering. (Laughter.)
Reporter: (Chuckles.) I mean --
Ambassador Bolton: No comment. (Laughter.)
Reporter: I'm trying to phrase this accurately so you can't jump on it. (Laughs.) Does the U.S. --
Ambassador Bolton: Preemptive answer to your question.
Reporter: Right. I mean, does the U.S. believe that there are times essentially when the Security Council should pick a side and should send in a, you know, strong force with an enforcement capacity to ensure to that that side survives or even wins?
Ambassador Bolton: That's what we've done in Iraq twice, isn't it?
Reporter: Is that what you're talking about with Somalia?
Reporter: Are we talking about the same kind of --
Ambassador Bolton: No, you were asking a hypothetical question. I was giving you a hypothetical answer.
Reporter: (inaudible) -- Somalia?
Ambassador Bolton: We're not going to comment on the text of what we're considering.
Reporter: One last, very specific on this.
Ambassador Bolton: You're very persistent today.
Reporter: Is there any question surrounding the deployment of Ugandan troops in Somalia, the same troops that contributed to the pillaging and, in some cases, pretty severe human rights atrocities in eastern Congo?
Ambassador Bolton: I just have no comment on that. I just think it's important that you understand we are looking to find a center of gravity around which this resolution can be based. We're in consultation now, we don't have it yet, and we're still working on it. But we do intend to move as soon as we can.
Reporter: Ambassador --
Reporter: On -- two questions. Do you have any comment on the watered-down new Iran nuclear resolution? And that --
Ambassador Bolton: If I said no comment in response to that, I would want to be clear that it's no comment on your characterization or any other aspect of it, although I have read a very interesting Reuters story from Paris.
Reporter: Okay. Secondly, then --
Ambassador Bolton: It has not been the subject of discussion in New York.
Reporter: The secretary-general I think for the first time criticized the Human Rights Council for directing too many --
Ambassador Bolton: Hallelujah.
Reporter: Yeah, but they did pass a Darfur one today, though mild. Do you have any comment on --
Ambassador Bolton: Well, they rejected another one 22 to 20, and I think that was most unfortunate. I think the record of the council has been inadequate today. I think it speaks for itself.
Reporter: On Fiji.
Reporter: Ambassador --
Ambassador Bolton: Sorry, the loud voice in the back here.
Reporter: Yeah. There was a report today adding to another report on involvement of Hezbollah in Iraq. There was previously a report about presence of people from Somalia in southern Lebanon under the tutelage of Hezbollah. Is Hezbollah becoming the major hub for terrorism in the Middle East?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think Hezbollah is certainly Iran and Syria's terrorist group of choice. And I have no doubt they've got a number of missions, including missions outside of Lebanon. But that's why one should not pick and choose among these various missions. There is a broad problem of support for terrorism in the region and particularly from Iran and Syria that are funding Hezbollah and Hamas and their activities.
Reporter: On Fiji, the secretary-general has called there and said that if there's a coup that the U.N. won't accept peacekeeping troops from there. Is the U.S. --
Ambassador Bolton: There's a press report that says that. There's a press report that says that.
Reporter: (Inaudible.) Is the U.S. tracking it and --
Ambassador Bolton: We are discussing here today the possibility of the Security Council engaging in something that it talks a lot about but rarely does -- namely, preventative diplomacy. But -- and we've been in discussion with a wide range of countries, but we're not at this point prepared to say exactly where we're going to come out. But we're certainly watching the situation there very carefully.
Reporter: Just a follow-up on Hezbollah -- one question about this. Do you think UNIFIL is doing enough to monitor the involvement of foreign fighters in Lebanon in violation of 1701 --
Ambassador Bolton: I think there are clear breaches of Resolution 1701, including breaches of the arms embargo, and we have received reports of Hezbollah weapons coming south of the Litani River that have not been seized. And these are reports that are of concern to us.
Reporter: Ambassador, could you -- (inaudible) -- big picture --
Ambassador Bolton: Very recent.
Reporter: Ambassador, could you take a big-picture look and respond to a question about -- well, it's my question. What is the United States view of Secretary-General Annan and his performance, the relationship between this secretary-general and Washington? He has a speech coming up in Missouri -- none of us have seen it; maybe you've seen it -- about the U.S., the role of the U.S. If you had to take a look at the partnership, the working relationship -- you've criticized some of his aides; you said hallelujah when Annan first criticized the Human Rights Council. What's your answer to that?
Ambassador Bolton: I'll pass.
One more question.
Reporter: Perhaps you've already answered this --
Ambassador Bolton: But I'd be happy to answer it again.
Reporter: Thank you. I just wanted to know if -- what -- is this --the extension of the mandate of the multinational forces, is that going to help Bush when he arrives at Amman tomorrow in his discussions with the Sunni Arab leaders?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, we're certainly pleased that we're able to get the mandate extended before the meeting, because I do think it shows to not just to the United States but to all the countries in the region that the Security Council remains strongly of the view that we need to see stability in Iraq and continued progress toward democracy. I think the fact it was a unanimous vote shows that all of the countries want to contribute to it. And I think the explanation of vote by France said -- made it clear, we all share the same objective. And I think that's something that the neighboring countries need to take into account.
Reporter: One Lebanon question, if I may. There is some concern that the 15 days that you've repeatedly spoken about -- the period needed till the president of the republic says his word on the tribunal. There is a lot of concern that this 15 days would be used to actually topple the government, and that by stepping back and not, you know, keeping engaging that Security Council and its members would be botching the dissolution -- I mean, the counter objective that they had wanted to accomplish.
Ambassador Bolton: Well, certainly the lesson should be that all parties in Lebanon should adhere to their own constitution, and that would certainly be aided if Iran and Syria would tell Hezbollah not to engage in unconstitutional resort to arms and force in an effort to intimidate or topple the government. So I think Iran and Syria could demonstrate not by rhetoric but by real action that they're prepared to allow democratic procedures to prevail in Lebanon.
Reporter: Ambassador, just one more. Should there be any form of redress on governments who've been supplying, in contravention of the arms embargo, the warring parties in Somalia.
Ambassador Bolton: You know, that shows real persistence. Congratulations. I'm just not going to talk about the situation in Somalia because I think it would -- to answer a piece of a question would give a potentially misleading impression as to what we're trying to do. We are quite concerned about the situation there. It's one reason we've been vigorously pursuing a resolution. And there are a variety of factors that have led to the current problems there, and I really don't want to get into it piece by piece. When we're in a position to circulate the draft resolution, then I'd be prepared to talk about it more, because I think that's the best way to understand what our approach is and what we hope will be the approach of the full Security Council.
Okay? Thanks a lot.
Reporter: Thank you, Ambassador.