Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on events in North Africa and the Middle East
The Secretary-General has been closely following the developments in North Africa and the Middle East, including Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and other countries, and remains very concerned about reports of escalating violence and bloodshed.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the non-use of force and respect for basic freedoms. Stressing that utmost restraint must be exercised by all concerned, he wishes to reaffirm his conviction that this is the time for broad-based dialogue and for genuine social and political reform.
To this end, he is in continuous contact with the leaders of the region to discuss developments. He has been encouraging them to listen to the aspirations of their people and respond to their legitimate aspirations. He has urged all parties to exercise restraint and especially to refrain from violence. In his calls, the Secretary-General has also advocated respect for freedom of media and uninterrupted communication services.
Regarding the situation in Bahrain, the Secretary-General has spoken today to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to express his concern and urged the government of Bahrain to exercise maximum restraint as well as to calm the volatile situation. The Secretary-General welcomes the decision by King Hamad to initiate a dialogue. He feels such a dialogue should be broad-based and meaningful, involving the political opposition, civil society and women’s groups. If requested, the United Nations is prepared to support such a process.
During the past few days, the Secretary-General has also discussed the situation in the region with a number of leaders. He talked to the current top leadership in Egypt and agreed to dispatch senior UN officials to Egypt.
He exchanged views with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, as well as with the US Secretary of State.
The Secretary-General also intends to raise the very disturbing reports emanating from Libya with the Libyan leadership.
The Secretary-General will continue to closely follow the unfolding events and speak to other leaders in the region. He reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to provide any assistance requested to address these historic developments.
New York, 20 February 2011