Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asserted yesterday that the special tribunal for trying the killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri has become a fait accompli.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat following an official visit to Saudi Arabia, he said “we are preparing the new venue for the tribunal in the Netherlands as agreed upon and we have the judges, the prosecutors, and the records secretary.”
He said the prosecution in the killing of the former Lebanese prime minister would start its work at the end of the year after pointing out that the “prosecution team’s work was postponed until the end of December.”
He stressed at the same time that the investigators were continuing to submit reports regularly to the UN Security Council on the progress made during their investigation of the cases before the international tribunal.
The UN secretary general’s assertions came hours before leaving Saudi Arabia following a two-day visit during which he discussed a number of issues of mutual interest with the Saudi leadership.
He expressed his concern over the rise in food prices and said he was watching these rises across the world with deep concern, adding that the world food crisis has reached what he called “unprecedented” levels. In his description of the danger of the current crisis, he cited the World Bank’s conclusion that “food prices which doubled during the past three years could subject around 100million people in poor countries to the danger of extreme poverty.”
Against this, Bi-moon told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Saudi contribution is unprecedented in its size and largesse. It provided food for millions of the needy all over the world.” He was referring to Saudi Arabia’s$500 million grant to the World Food Program [WFP].
Talking about this grant, he said “I welcome totally this important contribution by Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Abdullah Bin-Abdulaziz, the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. This contribution completed the aim sought by the WFP, namely, to provide $755 million for combating the rise in food and fuel prices.”
On the Iraqi issue, Ban Ki-moon disclosed that the UN organization recently started to present an analysis of the disputed borders (administrative boundaries between the governorates) and said “we are willing to do more as the need requires.”
He pointed out that the UN enlarged the scope of its present in Iraqi territories and said it was exerting much effort to help the Iraqi people build their homeland. On the issue of increasing the sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program, he said this is a UNSC decision and on the issue of trying Sudanese officials in connections with crimes committed in Darfur and the call on the Sudanese Government to comply with international responsibilities and cooperate with the International Criminal Court, he said he “is feeling deeply worried by the reports of lessened cooperation by the Sudanese Government. I am fully convinced that there will not be permanent peace without justice. Peace and justice go hand in hand. There is no escaping the punishment for the war crimes in Darfur.”