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Deputy spokesperson is unaware of proposed meeting between UN Secretary-General and Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.

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Thursday, 27 March 2003



LINDA MOTTRAM: Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, told parliament yesterday that he will be meeting with Kofi Annan next week in New York. But this morning a spokeswoman for the Secretary-General, Hua Jiang says that the UN is not aware of plans for the visit. She does say, though, that Mr Annan would welcome any Australian contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq, and she has echoed Mr Annan’s concern that combatants should observe international humanitarian law.


Our reporter, Agnes Cusack, asked Hua Jiang what the Secretary-General meant by the ‘combatants’ in the conflict.


HUA JIANG:   By saying all belligerents, that including the United States, the UK and Australia—those countries who have sent troops to Iraq to launch this military action.


AGNES CUSACK: The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has announced his intention to meet with the Secretary-General next week to talk about the reconstruction of Iraq. What would the Secretary-General be telling countries like Australia, in terms of their responsibilities, to the people of Iraq?


HUA JIANG: Well, we are certainly not aware of the Australian request yet to meet the Secretary-General but I am sure the Secretary-General will welcome all the interest in the humanitarian operation in the country. So if Australia is willing to donate to the constructions, to the humanitarian operations, of course that will be most welcome.


LINDA MOTTRAM: Hua Jiang is the spokesman for Kofi Annan in New York; she was speaking to our reporter, Agnes Cusack.