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Press conference by Foreign Minister of Argentina

The Foreign Minister of Argentina, Adalberto Rodriguez Giavarini, addressed correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon. The Foreign Minister, who in his capacity as Security Council President, was presiding over today's Council meeting on protection of United Nations personnel, associated personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones, was accompanied at the press conference by the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations, Arnoldo Manuel Listre.

Responding to a question about his meeting yesterday with United States Permanent Representative, Richard Holbrooke, the Minister said that it had been devoted to substantive issues regarding relations between the two countries. Some extremely important issues had been discussed. He had reiterated Argentina's continued support of peacekeeping operations and had recalled the humanitarian aid provided by the White Helmets in such emergencies as the one in Venezuela. Satisfaction had been expressed over Argentina's Presidency of the Security Council and its efforts to protect not only military, but also international humanitarian personnel. Tomorrow, he was going to meet United State's Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, and other officials from the State Department.

Asked if the question of the Malvinas had been discussed during his meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Foreign Minister replied that the issue had indeed been raised, among many others. He and the Secretary General had spoken about the Secretary-General's good offices and had discussed the work of the Special Committee on decolonization.

He said that Argentina's State policy regarding the Malvinas had been established in the Constitution of the country. It was requesting sovereignty over the islands through diplomatic and peaceful means. It also kept in mind the interests of the inhabitants of the Malvinas. At the moment, bilateral negotiations were under way with the United Kingdom, and some progress had been achieved. The United Kingdom had expressed willingness to discuss the issue of sovereignty. He had met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, as well as with Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Robin Cook. The two countries were "adopting a broad approach". Argentina wanted to increase trade ties with the United Kingdom, but at the same time, it wanted to ensure that the sovereignty of the islands would be discussed.

A correspondent observed that the next big test of the progress towards ensuring the safety and security of the United Nations personnel would be the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He wanted to know if the draft resolution that the Security Council was working on now, would provide for the protection of civilians involved in that mission. The Foreign Minister said that as a result of an interesting exchange of opinions in the Security Council, a resolution would include measures to ensure the protection of staff, including the civilian personnel.

Responding to a question regarding the 1994 Convention on the Safety and Security of the United Nations and Associated Personnel, he said that Argentina had ratified the Convention, and there had also been great input from other delegations.

Mr. Listre added that today, there had been very good feedback from many delegations, which indicated that they were willing to ratify the Convention. The idea was to add a protocol to the Convention to protect the safety and security of humanitarian staff, but first of all, it was necessary to ensure that other countries ratified the Convention itself.

Asked if any additional efforts would be undertaken by the Council Presidency for Africa this month, Mr. Listre said that nothing was being planned in that respect.