FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Good morning. As you know, the president will host today at the White House UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. This will be their first formal meeting since the president was inaugurated. It will be his third meeting with an international leader at the White House.
The early timing of this meeting and the breadth of its substance I think underscores the importance that President Obama and the administration attach to the United Nations as an important venue and vehicle for the advancement of our national security and foreign policy goals and as a venue in which we can seek to enhance cooperation on a wide range of international security, development and other issues.
I will be leaving shortly for Washington to join in that meeting and I look forward to a discussion that will be on a wide-ranging agenda including climate change, poverty, issues of human rights, certainly the situation in Sudan among other issues. It provides an important opportunity for all of those topics to be discussed in a substantive way between these two leaders.
I look forward to your questions.
Reporter: Madam Ambassador, the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran has just actually reported that it believes it has found Iran in violation of sanctions. In your comments, you expressed hope that the Council would take action against Iran for these violations. What kind of action is the United States seeking?
Ambassador Rice: My statement—which you all have a copy of—very clearly condemned the violation of the Monchegorsk vessel transporting weapons from Iran to Syria. It welcomed the fact that the committee was able to agree that this indeed a violation and to issue a call upon Iran and Syria to provide prompt explanation for their actions. And what I said was that we would then expect the committee to follow up and take any appropriate action. I don’t think this is the place to foreshadow what that action might be.
Reporter: Speaking of action the US might advocate, what would the US now call for in terms of getting the Sudanese government to reverse its decision on the expulsion of humanitarian groups? Would you like to see sanctions on Sudan or is a subject of the discussion today further sanctions? A resolution perhaps forcing the Chinese to veto if they so choose? What’s the US pushing for here?
Ambassador Rice: Well, let me be very clear about the US position on Sudan. First of all, we have very strongly and forcefully condemned the decision of the government of Sudan to expel 13 international, 16 total non-governmental organizations that are providing life-saving assistance to more than 40 percent of the most vulnerable people in Darfur. If this decision stands, we can expect over a million people to be in immediate risk of losing their lives and the responsibility for that decision lies squarely with the government of Sudan.
The United States has been very clearly and forcefully working to press the government of Sudan to reverse that decision. I’ve met, spoke with the Ambassador of Sudan here in New York, I spoke yesterday with the president of Sothern Sudan, Salva Kiir, and they’re continuing diplomatic efforts here in New York, in Washington, in Khartoum, in Addis Ababa and other capitals to underscore that message.
I think it’s imperative that the African Union and its member states, the OIC, the Arab League come together and deliver a very clear message to the government that they will not tolerate and stand by while over a million African Muslims are at risk of urgent death. The United States will review with our partners here in the Security Council what next steps we think are most appropriate, but I can assure you that the United States takes this very seriously and will act accordingly.
Reporter: Would you please? There was a discussion about the 1701 inside the room there and there are many problems related to Lebanon, the (inaudible) village, and Shebaa farms and armaments of Palestinians and of Hezbollah and sovereignty of the Lebanese government. Could you please comment on that?
Ambassador Rice: Yes, I spoke in the consultations about this topic. I welcome the report, in particular its strong affirmation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon. I expressed our government’s deep concern about rocket attacks and the violations of weapons flowing in, in violation of 1701. These are all very serious issues United States is concerned about and many other members of the Council expressed similar concerns.
We also welcomed the efforts by Lebanon and Syria to work to improve their bilateral relationship and we spoke about the importance of delineating the border and other issues in that context.
Thank you very much. I’ve gotta get a plane.
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