FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador Rice: Good Morning. As you well know, one of the United States’ top priorities at the United Nations is strengthening UN peacekeeping and building the capacity of peacekeepers to perform their missions and tasks effectively. So we are particularly pleased with today’s session, which we think has produced a worthy Presidential Statement that commits all of us to more thorough and timely consultations with troop and police contributing countries as we view and renew and establish mandates. It also commits us to be more rigorous as we renew and roll over missions, but also as we create new missions in ensuring that the responsibilities and tasks that we are giving peacekeepers can actually reasonably be fulfilled.
So today’s outcome is a constructive one. I was also particularly pleased to be able to announce in the Security Council that the United States is now in a position to clear its outstanding peacekeeping arrears accumulated from 2005-2008, and we have every expectation due to Congressional action as well to be able to fulfill our obligations in 2009, which as you know will be particularly substantial this year. So it’s a good session and a constructive one and we hope that and expect that we’ll lay the foundations for further analysis of the New Horizons report and other initiatives out there and will be a good step in our efforts to ensure that the UN’s peacekeeping capacity is enhanced and strengthened going forward.
Reporter: Madam Ambassador on the subject of peacekeeping you said your testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and I quote “the US is willing to consider directly contributing more military observers, staff and so forth.” Can you tell us what stage those deliberations are or really how ambitious the U.S. might be in terms of increasing its participation in UN Missions?
Ambassador Rice: Well, this is a statement I actually first made back in June when we had the debate last on peacekeeping, and it reflects already the thinking and decisions within the US government and our interagency process. But obviously the specific decisions that we take with respect to any missions will be in response to requests from the United Nations. So we will review requests for those sorts of capacities that I described as they come in and we will make case by case decisions about the nature and level of our contribution.
Reporter: The next mandate, I think, is UNIFIL. Do you expect any changes in that mandate? Any discussion of anything you’d (inaudible) like what happened in South America recently?
Ambassador Rice: Obviously UNIFIL will be one that, like every other one, we will look at carefully and ensure that we think that the mandate is still suited to the current circumstances. I had the opportunity this morning to meet with General Graziano and to hear his take. And his impression is essentially that it is indeed the case that the mandate is appropriate, that the troop levels are appropriate, and that the most important thing at this point is reinforcing the political will of both parties to uphold the obligations in 1701.
Reporter: Are you requesting any amendment to the mandate?
Ambassador Rice: I didn’t say that. I said we are looking at it. I am not prepared to say one way or another. But obviously the recommendations of the Force Commander and other senior personnel on the ground are very important to us. And I don’t want you to take the wrong impression that we are proposing to change the mandate. I am just simply saying that as with all these peacekeeping operations, we will review them.
Ambassador Rice: You have a question of clarification?
Reporter: Clarification only. So are you saying that the commander, the force commander, recommended to you that the mandate remains as is, (inaudible) as is and that nothing changes. Is that what you’re saying?
Ambassador Rice: What I said was that I understood from General Graziano that he believes that the mandate as currently crafted remains appropriate and that he feels he has the troops to fulfill that mandate.
Reporter: President Obama is coming in September, we saw your statement yesterday, what are you hoping will come out of this? Will it be a resolution, maybe a Presidential Statement? And what would, why was the decision made that it wouldn’t focus on individual countries because ultimately it is all about countries that you know might…
Ambassador Rice: No, it isn’t all about. We want to secure loose nuclear material within four years. We want to start a follow-on agreement. We want to ratify CTBT. We want to have a fissile material cut-off. There are many, many issues out there that are important and relevant that go beyond individual countries. And we are dealing with the individual countries every day in the Security Council, as we just have, I think quite effectively, with North Korea and as we continue to review and to deal with the situation of Iran and any all and other proliferation concerns.
So, this is an opportunity that we very much welcome, that will bring the Security Council further into the discussion of the sorts of topics that President Obama raised in his speech in Prague. And it is an opportunity for the Council, which obviously has a deep stake in nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament to continue its thinking and to concert its action. We will work very closely with our partners in the Council over the coming weeks to ensure that it’s a maximally productive session.
Reporter: Madam Ambassador, a follow up on that. You didn’t quite answer…
Ambassador Rice: You noticed.
Reporter: …Lou’s question on whether there is going to be any kind of any kind of an outcome document. But obviously this meeting is coming ahead of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I am certain that part of this is also to see that this discussion gets underway earlier because a lot of the issues you just raised are part of that. Am I right in saying that? And do you have firm commitments that heads of state and government will be attending this Security Council meeting?
Ambassador Rice: We have just issued the invitation so it is too soon to forecast the RSVPs. But I am hopeful that this will be a well attended session, as it will be one of the rare occasions in which the Security Council has met at the heads of state level. It is a topic this Council has been focused on and seized with and which I think all of our colleagues agree merits the highest level attention. Obviously the nuclear, the NPT review conference, is an important milestone and we are very much committed to working to making it a success. And to the extent that this session in the Security Council can lend a positive impetus to that, we would find that very valuable.
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