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Assistant Secretary Brimmer Outlines U.S. Engagement at Upcoming UN General Assembly
September 19, 2010


Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release

September 17, 2010

On-The-Record Briefing

Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer

On Upcoming United Nations General Assembly

September 17, 2010

Washington, D.C.


MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State.  To start off, next week is UNGA week here at the – as the Secretary, the President, world leaders will converge on New York City.  We apologize in advance to the people of New York.  It will get a little congested there for the next few days.  But as we do every September, world leaders come together to address and try to advance our international global interests in solving the challenges of the world.  We have Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer, who does multilateral affairs here at the Department of State to give you some of high points of the Secretary’s engagement next week and into the following week.  And then we’ll pick up other events of the day.


MS. BRIMMER: Thank you, P.J.  And thank you for the opportunity to talk to you today.  I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with you to outline the Administration’s goals and priorities for the UN General Assembly that will be going on next week.  And I’ll also talk about some of the Secretary’s key activities during her time up in New York.

Now, first I think I’d like to start off with just a couple of words about the Administration’s overall approach to the UN General Assembly and to our second General Assembly.  Now, as you recall last year, President Obama made clear his intent to lead the United States back to the multilateral table, and that intent was defined as the era of engagement.  In a sense over the past year, it has matured into an era of action driven by U.S. priorities, framed by U.S. values, and guided by the tireless leadership of the President, the Secretary, and my good friend Susan Rice up in New York.

So if we reflect, in a sense we take stock over the past year and the multilateral direction, we can look at the distance we’ve traveled and, in a sense, put it into context as part of the Administration’s deepening engagement in a variety of critical areas.  And I’ll highlight a few of the multilateral work over the past year.

Let’s just take nuclear nonproliferation.  This year the President hosted the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April, which focused on safeguarding weapons and weapons-grade plutonium and uranium.  The United States played a critical role in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review in May up in New York.  And in April, President Obama signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.  And enforcement is also important; therefore, in June, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1929, a legally binding resolution imposing the most comprehensive international sanctions on the Government of Iran.

We turn to the area of human rights.  The United States has used its first year as a member of the UN Human Rights Council to strengthen the UN’s work to protect and promote human rights, including a strong response to critical issues, and particularly to human rights violations that we’ve seen, and we’ve tried to weave in human rights issues into our work in the UN system.  Now, the Human Rights Council meets in Geneva and its fall session is already underway, and it will address a number of key priorities, including the need for more robust efforts on freedom of association and combating discrimination against women.

We’ve also been active working on peace and security issues.  The United States has been a leading voice in promoting the participation of women in conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and peace building.  And we’ve been active in trying to provide for the protection of women and girls to try to counter sexual and gender-based violence.

On the environment, the United States has played an instrumental role in reaching the Copenhagen Accord, which includes, as you know, a fast start climate financing facility that helps with the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries addressing climate change.

In a sense, these are just some of the examples of the work over the past year and the work the Administration has undertaken to realize the President’s vision for a more active and constructively-engaged United States.  That leads me to take up, specifically, some of the issues that are going to come up in the 65th UN General Assembly.

Now, the Assembly actually formally opened this week, but it really hits its stride next week.  Our goals and priorities for the UN General Assembly can be broadly described as deepening, strengthening, and extending many of the actions already taken.  We have four overall objectives that can be described; first, really focusing on the Millennium Development Goals and making progress on our development priorities.  Secondly, on improving the UN’s tools related to peace and security, to promoting human rights, and tackling environmental changes.

I’d like to take a moment and talk a little bit more, specifically, about the Millennium Development Goals, and then I will turn to the specifics of the Secretary’s schedule.  Now, as you know, the next week’s session begins with a high-level plenary meeting on the MDGs, the Millennium Development Goals, which will occur during the first three days of next week.  This will be an important opportunity for the United States to elaborate the President’s development agenda as well as our approach to the Millennium Development Goals.  We will focus on core principles of leveraging innovation, investing in sustainability, tracking development outcomes, and enhancing mutual accountability.

Now, I would be happy to discuss the MDGs and other objectives in greater detail, but I’d also take a few minutes to talk about the Secretary’s schedule and her activities in the coming week.  Now, as you know, always pretty busy as we plan for the run up to the General Assembly, and I’m not in a position to give really details on all parts of the schedule at this point.  But I’d like to share with you some of the key elements; first, to note that the Secretary, of course, will be doing a number of Middle East-related events during the week.

Her first event, after arriving in New York on Sunday, the 19th, will be a senior-level gathering to discuss the ongoing international flood relief for Pakistan.  This is a follow-up to a similar gathering that was held in August and it was designed to encourage and rally support for humanitarian relief in that country.

On Monday, the 20th of September, the Secretary’s day will include participation in a special session of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.  Now, that meeting is slated to be co-chaired by Haitian Prime Minister Bellerive and former President Clinton.  And much of the Secretary’s Monday, as with much of the rest of the week, will then be filled with bilateral and multilateral meetings.

On Tuesday, the 21st of September, the Secretary will make remarks at a special side event related to the Millennium Development Goals.  She will co-host with Irish Foreign Minister Martin an event that features leaders from governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector.  This event is entitled “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future,” and will highlight action to reduce child undernutrition, focusing on what’s called the 1,000-day window of opportunity, beginning from a woman’s pregnancy and continuing until the child is two years old.  Significant evidence shows that a child who is well-nourished during this critical period will have a healthier and more prosperous future.

That afternoon, the Secretary will speak at an event hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative, and that evening, the Secretary will participate in the traditional transatlantic dinner with foreign ministers of the European Union and NATO countries.

Wednesday will feature a series of bilateral and multilateral engagements, including the NATO-Russia Council ministerial and a meeting of the P-5+1.  That afternoon, the Secretary will join the U.S. delegation to the high-level plenary on the Millennium Development Goals, where President Obama will address the enduring U.S. commitment to reaching the goals by 2015.

Now, Thursday, of course, is framed by the formal opening of the General Assembly and the President’s speech that morning.  On Thursday afternoon, in addition to joining many of the President’s meetings, the Secretary will represent the United States at the Security Council for a special meeting on peace and security issues.

On Friday, we anticipate the Secretary will accompany the President for much of the day.  I will note that the Secretary will be resuming her schedule on Monday the 27th with a number of diplomatic meetings in New York.  At this juncture, Monday is slated to be the Secretary’s last day in New York.

So, ladies and gentlemen, that gives you a bit of a window into the Secretary’s agenda in New York, outlines a few of the top-line issues the U.S. will be addressing, some of our multilateral goals and priorities at the General Assembly and beyond.  I’d be happy to take your questions and discuss these or other points related to the Secretary’s schedule.

Thank you.  Please.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask – Mina Al-Oraibi, Asharq Alawsat newspaper – I wanted to ask you for more detail on Middle East issues.  What sort of meetings do you expect the Secretary to have relating to Middle East peace, please?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I can just take up – P.J. will probably give you, following me, a longer discussion of specifically what she’s doing on the Middle East, but of course, it’ll be part of her bilateral and multilateral meetings next week.

QUESTION: You mentioned the P-5+1.  So who is going to be attending that, and will there be an Iranian representative there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Well, the P-5+1, as you know, regularly meets and it will be the usual group of the P-5+1 that meets regularly on a variety of topics.

QUESTION: So it will be at the political directors’ level?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Well, we’ll have to see exactly what level will be there, but that is – they will get together.  They’re still working on exactly the (inaudible).

QUESTION: Well, if she’s going to be there, doesn’t that mean it’s going to be the principals – Ban Ki-moon, Lavrov —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Well, what we have – once we know exactly the details of who will be at each meeting, we’ll let you know on a day-by-day basis.  But in particular, we know it will be that constellation of the P-5+1.

QUESTION: So it is – it’s the principals, then?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Well, once we have the exact schedule of exactly who will be in the room, we will confirm.

QUESTION: Can you —


QUESTION: I’m surprised you got through that whole thing without mentioning the word “cookstove,” but not – I’m not inviting you to do it now, but can you give us somewhat of an idea of her bilaterals – her bilateral meetings, particularly on Monday – both Mondays?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: At this point, we will have a long list of bilaterals.  It undoubtedly will continue to change and shift as her schedule becomes clearer.  We’ll let you know each day exactly who she will be meeting in the bilaterals.

Thank you.  Please.

QUESTION: Are there any scheduled now?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: She will be scheduling bilaterals.  Once we know those exactly, I will definitely let you know.

I’ll take this gentleman over here.  Thank you.

QUESTION: At one point, there was an expectation of a Quartet meeting and an Arab – a Quartet plus Arab League meeting.  Is that still scheduled?  You didn’t mention it, I don’t think, in your —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: At this stage, once we know more about the other pieces of the schedule, we – I say we will let you know exactly, once they are confirmed, on a day-by-day basis, who she’ll actually see in addition to those items I’ve already highlighted.

QUESTION: So there’s no plans right now to do that, or is that in the works?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Right – at this point, I can’t actually confirm whether there’s actually a meeting on this on a particular day until we actually know what’s actually confirmed.

QUESTION: Will she be —

MR. CROWLEY: Let me just say there are – some of the things that are tentative on her schedule subject to confirmation with others.  That’s why on things like P-5+1, we expect there to be a P-5+1 meeting, we expect there to be a Quartet meeting.  But whether it’s at the Secretary’s level or at different combinations will depend on the availability of leaders, and that’s still being worked out.

QUESTION: Aside from the event you mentioned at the Clinton Global Initiative, is the Secretary going to have any town hall, any address outside the UN focus while she’s in New York?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: At this point, we do not anticipate a formal town hall meeting or additional speech.  She’ll, of course, be speaking at different – and offering remarks at different events that she will be attending, but we’re not now scheduling a separate event completely separate from the ones I’ve already outlined.

Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: Yeah.  Will Secretary Clinton raise the issue on the North Korea issues, maybe discuss with —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Her particular schedule – we’ll be following up with – my regional assistant secretary colleagues will talk particularly about the issues that she’ll take up on East Asia.  Now, we’re going to go focus on the work that we’re doing on the multilateral side, and particularly the links to UN diplomacy that she’ll be taking.

QUESTION: So he – maybe she will have any other meeting with the Six-Party Talk delegations and country?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: As we said, we’re still working on what – exactly what will be confirmed and so forth, but we’re focusing on the multilateral issues.

MR. CROWLEY: Just to help out here, I mean, I’m not aware that there’s going to be a particular meeting in that combination, but certainly, in some of the bilateral meetings either the Secretary has or the President has, I assume North Korea will obviously be an issue among others that is discussed.


QUESTION: Madam, talking about human rights and democracy – excuse me – the Secretary meeting and bringing these issues like Burma and China on the table?  And also now, there’s a problem also in regards to – growing across the globe.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Indeed, human rights will be part of our overall discussions at the UN General Assembly, and many of our meetings will be talking about the importance of human rights issues.  In a sense, this complements our work across the United Nations system.  As I mentioned, in addition to the work we’ll be doing in New York next week and throughout the General Assembly on human rights, we’re also active in the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is meeting simultaneously.  We will also be highlighting key human rights issues.

QUESTION: And second, Indian delegation is here and also foreign minister of India will be in New York at this meeting.  One, if she’s scheduled to meet with him?  And second, India has been asking and U.S., India, in many ways, were working together as far as India’s membership in the UN Security Council.  So what’s that mean?  Where are we on this issue?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Generally, first off, as you mentioned, indeed, there is an Indian delegation here in Washington today.  Part of our deep and rich conversations are on working with India in a variety of areas, including in the multilateral sphere, and there are many areas where we work in New York and Geneva and so forth with India on multilateral issues.  We would anticipate, of course, in our work next week that we’d also be talking about our cooperation in multilateral areas.

And in general, on the Security Council issue, the President has been quite eloquent, as – has said, the United States supports having the Security Council reflect the realities of the 21st century, and has supported a – the idea of a modest expansion of permanent and nonpermanent members, and will continue to work with members of the Security Council and members of the General Assembly in the ongoing process that’s discussing these issues.

QUESTION: But does U.S. support now India’s membership in the UN Security Council?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Yeah.  The U.S. has consistently said that it will support a modest expansion of the Security Council, one that would promote its efficiency and its central role in international peace and security issues.

QUESTION: Thank you.




ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Okay.  Thank you very much.  See you in New York.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.  Have a good day.

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