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Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for March

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The Security Council would hold 15 open meetings this month — including debates on the situations in Afghanistan, Haiti and Kosovo — the Russian Federation’s top United Nations delegate said today, as he briefed the press at Headquarters on the work programme as his country assumed the Council’s rotating presidency.

“We are focused on concrete and urgent topics of the current international agenda,” Vitaly Churkin said, adding that the Council would also hold 17 closed consultations.

The Council would also adopt four resolutions extending the mandates for the African Union Mission in Somalia, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone. In addition, the Council was considering two other potential resolutions — one on the missile and nuclear programs in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the other on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.

The substantive part of the programme would begin 5 March with a briefing on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. The Council would review Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special report following the 24 February signing of the Peace and Security Cooperation Framework for that country and the Great Lakes region. The top United Nations official would brief the Council in person. On 6 March, the Council was expected to adopt a resolution on the African Union Mission in Somalia and hear a briefing by the Permanent Representative of Australia, the chair of the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee, on the activities of the subsidiary body since December 2012.

The main event during the Russian presidency was the open debate on Afghanistan slated for 19 March, he said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would preside over the meeting, with high-level representatives expected to come from both within and outside the Council. The Secretary-General would also brief the Council, which would then adopt the resolution extending UNAMA’s mandate for another year. Debates on Haiti and Kosovo would be held respectively on 20 March and 22 March.

Responding to a question about how soon a resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would move forward and what obstacles had stood in the way, Mr. Churkin said that was “not in my hands” and “I don’t have an answer for it.” There was a draft prepared by the United States delegation, but the draft had not yet been circulated among members of the Council, he added.

Asked further if the Council planned to invite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to present its views, he said Council members did not have a plan to make such an offer. “The situation unfortunately is quite clear,” he said, citing the third nuclear test by that country. Immediately after the test, the Security Council had issued a press statement condemning the action and spoken about the need for appropriate response from the Council. And that appropriate response was being prepared, with a resolution to be adopted “at some point”.

On the Russian Federation’s plan to invite representatives of the Taliban to the 19 March open debate, he said his delegation had no such plan and the Council would “of course” not invite the Taliban. The meeting was open only to members of the United Nations, although there might be some regional organizations closely involved in the situation in Afghanistan invited to participate in the meeting.

Responding to a journalist who pointed out that so-called “brainstorming” sessions on the Sudan and South Sudan situation every two weeks seemed “excessive and not very useful”, he said the practice had been adopted by strong insistence of a delegation and there was the need to break the logjam in concluding their “amicable divorce”. The Council had agreed to invite former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, a mediator to the conflict, to one of the two meetings this month, he added.

Asked about a failed press statement on a car bomb in Damascus, Syria, which affected the Russian embassy, he said that over the past month, some clear terrorist attacks had not been condemned by the Security Council. Some Council members had chosen to try to insert unacceptable language to kill the statement. “That was not only bad for our common struggle against terrorism, but it was sort of a breach of an elementary solidarity,” he said, adding that whenever something had happened to United States or British embassies, the Council was ready to issue a statement “without thinking more than 2 seconds, without consulting with our capitals.” But, “unfortunately our colleagues did not reciprocate,” he said.

Regarding the prospect for Kosovo becoming a full member of the United Nations, he said Kosovo had not been recognized by Serbia and a large number of the members of the international community, including some important states on the Security Council. The 22 March debate on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was a regular debate, with the Prime Minister of Serbia planning to come.

Asked about the draft resolution containing the lifting of the arms embargo in Somalia, he said it remained to be seen if that would be a “blanket” lifting, or a “more nuanced” one. Council members were still discussing it, he said.

Responding to a question about the United Nations presence in Mali envisioned by the Council, he said the Secretary-General was expected to brief the Council on 27 March and it would take some time for the Council to digest his presentation.

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