Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon. I’ll begin with a few remarks in my capacity as president of the Security Council. After more than a year of sustained violence and immense suffering by the Syrian people, the Security Council today finally and unanimously adopted a resolution on Syria. The resolution stresses that the Syrian government must immediately implement its commitments to Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan under his Six-Point Plan and authorizes the Secretary General to send an advance team of observers to verify that the Syrian government is doing what it is obliged to do. The resolution also expresses the Council’s intention to establish a broader observer mission once the Secretary General presents a blueprint and it’s clear that the ceasefire is holding and the government is cooperating.
I’ll now say a few words in my national capacity. It’s important to remember how this began. For months, the Syrian people protested peacefully, in pursuit of their basic rights and universal democratic aspirations. Only after they were met with violent retribution did they respond in self-defense. And even as the United States welcomes today’s action by the Security Council, we’re under no illusions. Just this morning, Syrian forces resumed their brutal shelling of Homs and opened fire on mourners in Aleppo, raising renewed doubts about the sincerity of the regime’s commitment to a ceasefire. There is an important opportunity to stop the violence and the bloodshed and begin a transition towards a stable and democratic Syria. The burden is now on the Syrian regime to seize it.
I’m happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: Thank you, Ambassador. You mentioned the shelling of Homs. Do you consider it a violation of the ceasefire?
Ambassador Rice: Absolutely.
Reporter: In terms of the second resolution and sending the full team, this idea that it requires the consent of the Syrian government—at least that’s what both Churkin said and that’s what Syria said and under Chapter 6, it would seem to require that—how do you think that that’s going to go? How do you think that—what will that mean in terms of the ability of the Syrian government to either dictate terms or block deployment?
Ambassador Rice: Well, what the resolution says is that the full monitoring mission will come after three things. One, a report by the Secretary-General; two, a sustained cessation of violence; and three, after consultation with the government of Syria. That would be the normal practice for a mission under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter. But the resolution also outlines the conditions that must be present for the advance team as well as the monitoring mission to effectively carry out its operations, and those are described in paragraph six.
So it will be important that the advance team get on the ground and then be able to report back as to whether that initial tranche is in effect able to operate freely and move as it must with the freedom to communicate internally as well as with the Syrian people, sufficient to fulfill its mandate. If that is indeed the case, that will provide the necessary assurances to members of the Security Council who must take a decision on authorization of the full mission.
Reporter: Thank you Ambassador. On a different topic, on North Korea. Would you kindly update us on the latest situation of the negotiations or talks on North Korea? Are you sharing the discussion with relevant parties or the entire 15 members?
Ambassador Rice: Well, we think everybody’s relevant, but we are still in the process of early stage discussions among certain Council members, which has typically been the approach that has worked best in the past with respect to North Korean issues. And those continue.
Reporter: How quickly do you expect a text to be adopted? Are you looking at something early next week or later in the week [inaudible]?
Ambassador Rice: You’re talking about North Korea?
Ambassador Rice: As I said yesterday, I think it’s premature to speculate on either form, substance or timing. We’ll keep you updated as we have more for you.
Reporter: On Sudan, has the Council heard anything back about its call that the SPLA leave Heglig? There’s now talk of Sudan marching on it and being rebuffed. Where does it stand?
Ambassador Rice: Let’s be clear about what the Council said. The Council issued a firm and comprehensive presidential statement that demanded an end to all the violence. It demanded that the government of South Sudan pull its forces out of Heglig; that the government of Sudan halt aerial bombardments, which, as you know, have been repeated in the South; and that both sides cease support for proxies and stop crossing each other’s borders with military forces. It seems that both sides thus far have not met their obligations pursuant to that presidential statement. Thank you.
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