Press Releases

    9 July 2002

    Activities of Secretary-General in Austria, 2-6 July

    NEW YORK, 8 July (UN Headquarters) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew from New York to Austria on Tuesday, 2 July.

    Upon arrival in Vienna the following morning, he met immediately with key members of his delegation to discuss the next round of talks with Iraq which were scheduled to begin on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

    They reviewed the principal items on their agenda for those talks -- Iraqi concerns regarding implementation of Security Council resolutions on Iraq, the return of UN inspectors to Iraq and the return of the Kuwaiti national archives.

    Those participating in the preparatory discussions were Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC); Mohamed El-Baradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Yuli Vorontsov, the UN High-Level Coordinator on Iraq; and Hans Corell, the UN Legal Counsel.

    At 5:30 p.m. the Secretary-General met with Alvaro de Soto, his Special Representative on Cyprus, for an assessment of the ongoing talks between the leaders of the island's two communities.

    At 6:15 p.m. he met with Hans Haekkerup, his former Special Representative in Kosovo.

    He was also in touch with New York concerning the Security Council's deliberations on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General met privately with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri at the UN's Vienna International Centre before beginning the latest round of talks designed to restore Iraq's cooperation with the UN Security Council.

    Mr. Annan and his delegation then met with their Iraqi counterparts for two and a half hours. In his opening comments, the Secretary-General said that the Security Council took note of progress achieved in the first two rounds of talks and hoped that this third round would result in conclusive developments.

    The Iraqi Foreign Minister thanked the Secretary-General and outlined his delegation's approach to the discussions.

    Statements or interventions were then made, on the UN side, by Messrs. Blix, El-Baradei, and Vorontsov.

    On the Iraqi side, Amir Rasheed Al-Saadi, also made a statement.

    The discussions focused on disarmament, the questions Iraq had submitted during the first round of talks and the return of Kuwaiti property and other documents. Ambassador Vorontsov outlined the mechanism for the return by Iraq of the Kuwaiti national archives, which was then discussed at the expert level in the course of the afternoon.

    On entering the UN complex, the Secretary-General was asked by the press what the most important issue was for him in these talks. He replied, "I think one of the key issues is to see how we get the inspectors in and how soon we can get them in… They haven't been there for over three years, and we'll be discussing that."

    Following the morning session, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister briefly talked to the press. The Secretary-General said, "We had a good round and a very good atmosphere." The Foreign Minister added, "We exchanged views in a serious and earnest manner." Asked if he expected to achieve something by the next day, the Secretary-General replied, "Inshallah". The Foreign Minister was asked if he had gotten the answers he wanted to his questions. "Inshallah," he joked.

    As he was leaving the building at midday, a journalist asked the Secretary-General whether holding these talks in Vienna rather than New York made a difference. He replied, "Maybe a change of venue brings inspiration. We shall see."

    The talks resumed on Friday morning, with the two sides seeking a formula for ending the stalemate between Iraq and the Security Council over the return of UN weapons inspectors to that country.

    Expert level discussions took place in the morning at the UN International Centre, after which the Secretary-General was briefed by Mohamed El-Baradei and by Hans Blix.

    In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met one-on-one with the head of the Iraqi delegation, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri. The full delegations then sat down for a two-hour final plenary session.

    Speaking to the press at the conclusion of the talks, the Secretary-General admitted that while there was "some movement", it was "obviously not enough". He said he would remain in contact with the Security Council with respect to Iraq's expressed wish for a comprehensive settlement and answers to the questions it had posed in March. "We have agreed to continue our contacts, including continuing discussions at the technical level," the Secretary-General said.

    Later that day, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Austria, Dr. Benita Ferrero Waldner. In the evening he attended a dinner hosted by Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the UN Office in Vienna.

    The Secretary-General departed Vienna for South Africa on Saturday, 6 July.

    * *** *