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Briefing on the Resolution on the UN Development Program (UNDP), D.P.R.K .and Other Matters,

Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, Acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
January 25, 2007


Ambassador Wolff: Hello. I thought we had a bigger group, but anyway, Colin (sp) says this is a big enough group. Anyway, we just finished with the UNDP Executive Board meeting that approved a number of country programs. And as far as the DPRK program is concerned, we're pleased with the approach that the UNDP administrator has laid out, essentially twofold: one, a full, thorough, independent, outside audit of the program; and prospectively immediate remedial measures for some of the shortfalls that we've identified along with UNDP for the program to continue. In the meantime, until we get the results of that audit and the program is reviewed, we would defer approval of the new program for the D.P.R.K.

Reporter: Yeah, the External Board of Audit was the same board of audit that didn't uncover information about the oil-for-food program; it didn't flag any of the concerns of the internal audits that UNDP had raised over the North Korea program. I think there was an expectation when the Secretary-General spoke on Friday that there would be like an outside Volcker-like audit. Why are you satisfied? And what is it about this Board of Audit that makes you feel comfortable that they will sort of get to the bottom of the issues you're trying to --

Ambassador Wolff: Our expectation is this is going to be a real, full, thorough, independent, investigative audit to get to the bottom of the program and some of the concerns that we've had. We hope to see the results, and that's what we're going to expect.

Reporter: Ambassador, the Japanese delegate downstairs made the point that perhaps the UN should cease all programs in North Korea except for direct humanitarian aid that goes directly to the people because North Korea has rejected Security Council resolutions and other UN. resolutions. What do you think of that approach? Is that going beyond what the U.S. is considering?

Ambassador Wolff: I think the Japanese argument is quite compelling.

Reporter: Ambassador, to follow up, can you say whether the United States is considering supporting the Japanese proposal at any point?

Ambassador Wolff: We're going to consider it

Reporter: So what's the impact on the North Korean people of the action today?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, the UNDP program is going to be managed more tightly, according to UNDP rules. We will make sure that we understand exactly what may have happened in the past, which actually may have diverted UNDP project money from the North Korean people. Hopefully that's not the case, but that's a possibility. So ideally what we have in place right now is designed to ensure whatever programs are in place are for the benefit of the North Korean people.

Reporter: Ambassador? Ambassador, given the General Assembly is going to be voting on a resolution on Holocaust denial, could you explain the significance and why the Americans brought this forward, why it's so important?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, a year and a half ago the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution establishing January 27th as Holocaust Remembrance Day, and one of the elements of that resolution was to reject the denial of the Holocaust. We've seen some developments in the past year that are of concern, and the time is right and appropriate and fitting to use this anniversary to pass a resolution that makes it unmistakably clear that this organization and all its members reject any denial of the Holocaust.

Reporter: Ambassador, given --

Reporter: Ambassador, I understand --

Reporter: Ambassador, given your position -- given your position, why don't you just call outright to suspend this program?

Ambassador Wolff: The --

Reporter: The North Korean program.

Ambassador Wolff: Well, because what we need to understand is exactly what the problems are. The measures that UNDP has proposed looking forward in terms of cessation of payments in hard cash, hiring DPRK officials to run the program or monitor the program, those are very important steps already that will improve the program. And in the meantime, the program is -- the new program is deferred. We haven't taken any decision on that. And the controls that are in place with the audit that will be coming out will probably give us all the assurances we need to ensure that the program is being well-run.

Reporter: Ambassador --

Ambassador Wallace: Let me just add that the United States also withholds its contribution in part to UNDP to the D.P.R.K. program. We think it's important to have close scrutiny and monitoring of all UNDP programs to ensure that there (are real ?) effective accountability and processes in place.

Released on January 25, 2007

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