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DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

 3 May 2007

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The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Frehiwot Bekele, Special Assistant to the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.  Sorry I’m a few minutes late.

**Secretary-General in Sharm el-Sheikh

The Secretary-General today co-chaired the launch of the International Compact with Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and he told the delegates gathered for the launch that the Compact represents a road map for the next five years, aimed at helping Iraq achieve economic prosperity, political stability and lasting security.

The Secretary-General said, “Much work will be needed to keep Iraq on track, but I am confident that the people and the Government are up to the challenge.”  He emphasized that, under the Compact, the Government has committed itself to pursuing a number of important initiatives to promote dialogue and reconciliation and to adhere to a legislative timetable designed to strengthen Iraqi unity.

“ Iraq is at a critical juncture,” he said.  “Political solutions are essential to building the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous country.”  And we have the entire speech upstairs.

The Compact meeting has just adopted by acclamation a resolution reaffirming the shared commitment of the 74 delegations to strengthen their partnership for a secure and stable Iraq.  The Government of Iraq and the international community stressed the need for the Iraqi Government to pursue fundamental reforms in governance, strengthened anti-corruption measures, equal protection for all Iraqis and an institutional framework based on the rule of law.

The resolution adopted at Sharm el-Sheikh also pledges substantive international engagement and investments to bridge the gap between Iraq’s needs and its capabilities in the medium term, with a special emphasis on the granting of debt relief to Iraq.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings, one of which was with the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Motaki.  The Secretary-General discussed the nuclear issue with Motaki and urged Iran to continue its discussions with the European Union.  They also talked about Lebanon and Iraq, with the Secretary-General calling for Iran to play a constructive role in building a national consensus in Iraq.

The Secretary-General, in a press conference just a few minutes ago, said he was pleased that a number of countries have made concrete commitments under the Compact today.  He said

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