CNN BREAKING NEWS
Press Conference With Deputy U.N. Ambassador From Syria
Aired August 19, 2003 - 10:57 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go right to the U.N. I believe Fred Eckhard is speaking there.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD, SYRIAN DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Members of the Council have met in immediate (ph) consultations on the terrible attack against the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. I'm going to read the statement on their behalf.
Members of the Council were shocked to hear of the terrorist criminal attack against the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Members of the Security Council have heard a briefing by assistant secretary general for political affairs on the bombing today of the U.N. compound in the Baghdad, resulting in deaths and injuries.
They condemned in the strongest terms this terrorist attack. Such terrorist incidents cannot break the will of the international community to further intensify its efforts to help the people of Iraq.
Members of the Council reaffirm that this horrible attack that aimed at undermining the vital role of the United Nations in Iraq will not affect their determination, and members of the Council will stay united against such attacks and to help the Iraqi people restore peace and stability to their country.
MEKDAD: Members of the Council expressed their sincere condolences to the bereaved families and wished all injured a quick recovery.
The United Nations' mission in Iraq has been established by the Security Council to help the Iraqi people to achieve their objectives. The United Nations in Iraq is on a mission of peace and for the reconstruction of the country and to support the Iraqi people. Therefore, it is all the more shocking that this attack occurred.
QUESTION: Sir, the Security Council, last week, authorized 300 U.N. employees to go to Baghdad to be in that very building. What is the status of that mission; will that go ahead?
And what is the latest that you hear of the condition of the special representative?
MEKDAD: We think such attacks should not stop United Nations' programs and activities in Iraq. On the contrary, this necessitates that the United Nations takes all measures to deepen its role in Iraq.
QUESTION: There's this story that Benon Sevan was, as well, in the building. Is that true?
MEKDAD: We heard the good news that Mr. Sevan is not injured, and we hope he is safe.
QUESTION: What about de Mello, what do you hear about special...
MEKDAD: We heard that Mr. de Mello is injured, and efforts are exerted to bring him out from the building.
QUESTION: Mr. President (ph), it's unusual for a senior U.N. official or for the U.N. official to come under attack in the Arab world. Is this, in any way, do you see a signal that the U.N. is more vulnerable to attacks throughout the Middle East than it has been in the past, that this is starting a new chapter?
MEKDAD: We share your concerns, and we think it's a red line (ph), and U.N. officials and senior officials and all U.N. staff everywhere in the world should not be under attack, by all means.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, what message would you give to the perpetrators of this act? MEKDAD: We shall tell them that the United Nations Security Council is united against such horrible attacks. These attacks are unacceptable, and they must be brought to justice.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, do you think that this will hinder the efforts by the coalition to get more multinational forces inside Iraq for...
MEKDAD: I will not speculate on such matters. I am on a mission to read you the statement and positions that were expressed during the discussions of the Council, and I think I have conveyed the message.
Thank you. And the Security Council will continue to be seized of the matter.
QUESTION: Arabic, sir?
MEKDAD: OK. Question in Arabic?
QUESTION: Could you read your statement in Arabic (OFF-MIKE)
MEKDAD: If I can make an immediate translation, I'll try to do it.
MEKDAD: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
QUESTION: I was wondering if you could express to us your reaction this morning at the news of the bombing in Baghdad?
ISRAELI OFFICIAL: Well, first let me express my country's very deep sorrow and sincere condolences to the United Nations, and especially to the people who are trapped and were hurt in this very vicious attack.
Israel is a country that has been suffering from this kind of brutal and evil and indiscriminate terror; probably understands it better than most.
I feel that what we're witnessing today is the ultimate testimony to the fact that terrorism is indiscriminate and global. There is no more global and international institution in the world than the United Nations, and a vicious attack such as this on the United Nations illustrates how indiscriminate those people are and how much this epidemic of terror has spread all over the world.
This is a far worse epidemic than the severe acute respiratory syndrome we've witnessed, the SARS epidemic. The SARS of terrorism, the suicide and ruin syndrome, is the world's most dangerous, most contagious and most horrible epidemic. And therefore, it must be fought by the whole freedom-loving world.
ISRAELI OFFICIAL: If it is not contained, it will spread to the streets of every city in the world, just as we've seen it already indiscriminately kill people in New York, Mombasa, Bali, Manila, Riyadh and now in the United Nations in Baghdad.
I think the fact that the United Nations has been hit shows that no one is immune from this horrible disease. And just as the world mobilized itself against the other SARS -- with closures, with quarantine, with establishing task force -- it must, today, and the United Nations must, establish a task force to fight this terrorism, because what happened today shows that nobody is immune.
QUESTION: Do you think, in any way, that this will thwart the U.N. mission over in Iraq?
ISRAELI OFFICIAL: I hope not. The U.N. is there to do good. There U.N. is there to help reconstruct Iraq and help the Iraqi people.
I think that the fact that the U.N. was hit in such a horrible and indiscriminate way shows the total cynicism and brutality of what is becoming the first world war of the 21st century and threatens to become, maybe, a vicious and bloody world war, adding to the first two world wars, which we knew this could very well be the third world war.
But the U.N. shouldn't give up. The U.N. is there to do good. And the U.N. should show resolution and resilience in the face of terror while acting against terror and mobilizing all its members against terrorism, but at the same time continuing to do the very important missions which this organization has bestowed upon the U.N. mission in Iraq.
We have many people there who we worked with and we know, including Secretary de Mello, who we pray for. And we, again, send our condolences to the victims' families and our best wishes for speedy recovery for all the people who are wounded in this vicious and indiscriminate attack.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to the deputy ambassador of the U.N. from Syria. This was Mr. Fayssal Mekdad, who was pretty much reiterating what we have been hearing from U.N. officials all morning now in the wake of this bombing of their compound at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad.
He was saying essentially that this will not effect the determination by the U.N. to restore peace and stability to the people of Iraq. And he also said that considering the U.N.'s mission there to help the people of Iraq to rebuild the infrastructure of that country and to make life better for all Iraqis, this attack against the U.N. is an absolute shock. He says this is a "red line," this attack on the U.N. compound.
We will continue to monitor the U.N. for anymore comments.
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