FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador Rice: I just want to say a couple of words about the action that the Security Council took this morning with respect to Cote d’Ivoire. We passed an important resolution extending the mandate through the end of May and we very much hope and expect that in that time frame, as soon as possible, free and fair elections will take place. And the progress that has been stalled thus far towards achieving reconciliation and a nationally unified government will actually be achieved.
On Somalia, the Security Council passed Resolution 1910 extending AMISOM’s mandate for another 12 months. The length of that mandate underscores the Council’s commitment to Somalia and establishing security there. It is very important also that the resolution underscored support for the Transitional Federal Government, has called on all parties to contribute generously to AMISOM and the UN Trust Fund, and expressed concerns we deeply share about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Somalia and condemnation of the armed groups that have obstructed aid and prevented it from being delivered to the people of Somalia.
Reporter: On Cote d’Ivoire, does the US have a view: President Gbagbo has said that there’s almost half a million improperly registered people and he has called for investigations. They say that’s why it’s being delayed. Do you have a view as to whether that is a legitimate claim? And just one other I wanted to ask you, the Save Darfur Coalition took somehow umbrage that last night’s State of the Union address did not mention Darfur, Sudan or genocide prevention. Are they misreading that? Does this reflect any lessoning of a commitment?
Ambassador Rice: Absolutely not. I think if that is their interpretation I would characterize that as a misreading. I think as all Americans saw and all Americans feel, the President’s focus last night was appropriately, principally on jobs and the economy. And the very concrete steps that he is taking and that he is calling on Congress to take to put our economy back on track and put Americans back to work. It was the right focus and clearly not every foreign policy issue of consequence was dealt with or could have been addressed in that context. The President is deeply committed to ending the killing and the suffering and the genocide in Darfur, and our work here at the United Nations and indeed the work that General Scott Gration and that the U.S. Government is doing to try to end the conflict and ensure the protection of civilians is as important today and yesterday as it is any other day.
Coming to Cote d’Ivoire, as you know the elections have been delayed repeatedly. This is a source of real concern for the United States and for the Security Council. There was a very unfortunate incident in which a false voter list was released and that has set back the process further. It is our view that the steps need to be taken by the Ivoirian authorities to ensure that the elections happen properly but that also the conditions for it are as such that the people of Cote d’Ivoire can all participate, that all eligible voters are allowed to cast their ballots, and that it happens in a transparent and legitimate fashion.
Reporter: Ambassador, the President was very strong yesterday in his speech about Iran. How does this translate to the Security Council? When can we expect a resolution?
Ambassador Rice: I can’t give you a precise time frame. Obviously we continue to pursue a dual track approach with respect to Iran. The fact that Iran has not taken up the opportunities extended to it and hasn’t met its international obligations puts additional urgency on one of those two tracks, which is to increase pressure. We are in consultation with our partners in the P5+1 on how best to proceed. At the appropriate time we will continue those conversations here in New York and move towards an appropriate resolution.
Reporter: Ambassador, the Contact Group on Somalia Piracy is meeting right now, what does the United States hope to have come out of that meeting? And what are the next steps on dealing with piracy in Somalia?
Ambassador Rice: The Contact Group is an ongoing process, as you know it meets regularly. Its large aim is to strengthen the capacity of those participating in interdiction to do so effectively and to ensure that there are effective legal mechanisms to the prosecution of those that are captured in the course of the counter-piracy investigations. Thank you.
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