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Highlights of the Noon Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General 03 May 2007

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BAN KI-MOON LAUNCHES IRAQ COMPACT, CALLING IT A ROAD MAP FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today co-chaired the launch of the International Compact with Iraq in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, and he told the delegates gathered for the launch that the Compact represents a road map for the next five years, aimed at helping Iraq achieve economic prosperity, political stability and lasting security.

"Much work will be needed to keep Iraq on track, but I am confident that the people and Government are up to the challenge," the Secretary-General said. He emphasized that, under the Compact, the Government has committed itself to pursuing a number of important initiatives to promote dialogue and reconciliation and to adhere to a legislative timetable designed to strengthen Iraq unity.

"Iraq is at a critical juncture," he said. "Political solutions are essential to building the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous country".

The Compact meeting adopted by acclamation a resolution reaffirming the shared commitment of the 74 delegations to strengthen their partnership for a secure and stable Iraq. The Government of Iraq and the international community stressed the need for the Iraqi Government to pursue fundamental reforms in governance, strengthened anti-corruption measures, equal protection for all Iraqis and an institutional framework based on the rule of law.

The resolution adopted at Sharm el-Sheik also pledges substantive international engagement and investments to bridge the gap between Iraq's needs and its capabilities in the medium term, with a special emphasis on the granting of debt relief to Iraq.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings, one of which was with Manouchehr Motaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran. The Secretary-General discussed the nuclear issue with Motaki and urged Iran to continue its discussions with the European Union. They also talked about Lebanon and Iraq, with the Secretary-General calling for Iran to play a constructive role in building a national consensus in Iraq.

The Secretary-General also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and with UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

The Secretary-General, in a press conference, said he was pleased that a number of countries have made concrete commitments under the Compact today. He said that specific financial commitments made by particular countries are estimated to be over $30 billion, including some commitments of debt relief on the Paris Club terms.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would announce an increase in the UN presence in Iraq, the Spokeswoman said that security continues to be a concern, but that, if the conditions are right, the Secretary-General would like the United Nations to do more in Iraq.

U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO NOTES PROGRESS IN DISARMAMENT

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) reports progress in the disarmament process with the announcement by Peter Karim, a leader of one of eastern DRC's largest militias, that an additional 500 of his fighters will surrender their weapons and reintegrate into civilian life this week.

The Mission also reports that a joint UN-Congolese Army unit was able to verify the effective disarmament of some 320 individuals at the Mbandaka naval base. And a team from the Military Integration Structure recently left the Equateur province after registering some 50 soldiers and 130 former presidential security officers for reintegration.

CRIMINAL COURT OFFICIAL VISITS REFUGEE CAMPS IN EASTERN CHAD

The registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bruno Cathala, is visiting three camps housing Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad as part of the outreach strategy the Court has to deal with Darfur.

His three-day visit, which ends tomorrow, is intended to explain the mandate and activities of the Court, especially the right of victims to participate in Court proceedings.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME INCREASES AID TO DISPLACED SOMALIS

The World Food Programme (WFP) today said it was stepping up a drive to deliver food to almost 100,000 of the 365,000 people driven from their homes in Mogadishu by the recent fighting.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the UN refugee agency, WFP yesterday airlifted 14 tons of urgently-needed relief supplies to Baidoa.

Those items included blankets, plastic sheeting, water tanks, and water purification equipment, and are now being trucked from Baidoa to an area west of Mogadishu for distribution to the internally displaced.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
Tel. 212-963-7162
Fax. 212-963-7055