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1994 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview after meeting with the UN Secretary General

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview after the meeting with the UN Secretary General, Mr Boutros Boutros Ghali, held in New York on Tuesday 1st March 1994.


PRESIDENT CLINTON:

I have had an extremely worthwhile hour with the Secretary General, we touched on a range of different subjects, we spent some time on Bosnia, to which I would like to return in just a moment if I may, also South Africa, Cyprus and the Middle East peace process.

If I could go back to the question of Bosnia, I think many of you may know that the United States and the United Kingdom announced this morning that we would be sending a team to Sarajevo to look at the situation on the ground and determine what practical assistance might be needed to help return the town to normal, that team will be despatched very speedily, within 2 or 3 days, and I hope they will return with a much clearer indication of the assistance that is actually needed there.

What I have been discussing with the Secretary General over the last hour, amongst other things, is the possibility of establishing a United Nations fund for the relief of Sarajevo to which anybody would be invited to contribute to, both those who are already making a practical contribution to solving the problems in Bosnia and those who as yet have been unable to do so. And that is a matter we were able to discuss over the last hour or so.

We discussed also South Africa and the rather hopeful signs that have emerged from the meeting between Mr Mandela and Chief Butholezi this afternoon, those, together with discussions about the Middle East peace process and the developments in Cyprus. If I could just say a word or two about Cyprus, we have indicated again our willingness to assist in ensuring that the confidence building measures are successful and I was delighted with the pro-active role that the United Nations are taking to bring the two sides together and see if we can find a settlement to this very long standing and hitherto intractable dispute. So a very worthwhile meeting and I look forward to seeing the Secretary General again I hope in the not too distant future in London.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] sending any troops to Bosnia after General Rose's request?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have not seen the details of what General Rose said, we have a significant number of troops in Bosnia at the moment, that is not a matter I have been discussing this afternoon with the Secretary General.

QUESTION:

On Hong Kong, do you have any thoughts about the possible souring of relations between Britain and China if the Hong Kong situation continues to simmer?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are seeking to find a way through in Hong Kong that will enable us to proceed with the democratic reforms. The Governor of Hong Kong has passed the first phase of the democratic reforms through LEGCO, he has laid the legislation to the second phase in front of LEGOO, But we are perfectly prepared to continue to discuss the whole circumstances in Hong Kong with the Chinese and I hope we can continue to do so amiably.

QUESTION:

Did you discuss the Russian involvement in Bosnia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the Russian involvement in Bosnia is a thoroughly helpful process, I have seen the reported details of the discussion in Moscow today, I have not had proper confirmation of it yet but from what I hear it sounds very promising. I think it is very desirable for the Russians to become involved diplomatically and to use the pressure that they have to help bring about a settlement in Bosnia.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] resolution here that Britain and France are considering?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is under discussion at the moment, I think the news from Tuzla this afternoon was very helpful but quite what will happen with the resolution at the moment is unclear.

QUESTION:

As far as the Middle East is concerned in your discussions, did you discuss an international presence in the occupied territories?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, well there is a small UN presence there and we did talk about that, we did not go on to address the question of whether there should be more and if so from where, we did not discuss that this afternoon.

QUESTION:

Do you think that the international community should send troops or a military observer or civilian observers?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are some UN observers there and I think they are doing a very good job, whether there requires to be more is a matter for the Secretary General to consider and I am sure he will do so.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, the British and the Americans, it is a very practical measure. What we are doing is just sending in a team of experts to actually have a look at what the situation is like on the ground in Sarajevo and what needs to be done to improve the quality of life and in particular return the utilities back to full operation in Sarajevo. They will come back and report, when they have reported the implication is that both the United States and Britain will contribute towards meeting the difficulties that are apparent there and we will invite other people to do so as well. What I have just been discussing with the Secretary General, since this may be a substantial undertaking, is the prospect of the United Nations itself establishing a fund so that anyone may contribute resources, cash or kind perhaps, towards solving the problem in Sarajevo.

QUESTION:

Has the Attorney General been in touch [indistinct].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I do not discuss those matters with the Secretary General.