27 April 2004
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's
Press Encounter with CNN
UN Headquarters, 26 April 2004
Question: Your comment on Mr. [Lakhdar] Brahimi's comments which have been somewhat controversial [on] Israel, calling it the "great poison of the region".
Secretary General: I think what Mr. Brahimi, whom I've spoken to, was trying to convey was the reactions he has picked up in the region and in the Islamic world, and [he was] really talking about the conflict in the Middle East and its impact on [other] efforts in the region. The way he explained it, he was trying to convey reactions from the region. I think he's here and we'll be talking further about this.
Question: Okay, and also his call for the US to show some restraint, saying that if they go into Fallujah, if they go into Najaf, [they would] create further hostilities, make more nemies. Do you agree with this?
Secretary General: I think basically the US itself has been very careful about how it handles the situation in Fallujah. Anytime one is forced to fight in built-up areas, it is a very tricky and a very dangerous situation because you want to protect civilians, at the same time you want to get to those who have guns and are shooting at you. And so it is a situation where one has to be extremely careful. And I have noted that the military ? the CPA and the military on the ground -- have been extremely careful. And I hope they will succeed in working out a political settlement. I know they have succeeded with the ceasefire, but I hope they will find a way out without having to fight their way into Fallujah.
Question: Mr. Brahimi, with his comments and through his work, would seem to have to build up support among the Arabs that he deals with. This is going to be a very delicate mine that he has to tread. What are your thoughts?
Secretary General: He's operating in a very difficult region.
Question: Any comment on Cyprus, Sir?
Secretary General: Yes.
Question: Will the UN play any future role?
Secretary General: I think obviously we're all very disappointed that the reunification efforts did not succeed. But I hope once they've had the chance to reflect, they will have to come to the conclusion that reunification is in the best interest of all Cyprus, and perhaps wish to pick-up the pieces and see where they go from there. I really would urge them to think it through. I know that we, at the UN, are not the only disappointed group. The EU and other states and Washington? we're all disappointed, and I think many people in the region because unification had lots to offer to all the Cypriots and the people of that region. And I hope, now that they have woken up to what has happened, they will reflect and take necessary steps to get back to the table.
Question: But the UN's work is done for now?
Secretary General: For now, we are done.