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Interview with Terje Roed-Larsen, UN special envoy (right)
Interview with Terje Roed-Larsen, UN special envoy (right)

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Well this week the United Nations disbanded that fact-finding mission it was setting out to investigate what had happened when Israel invaded the refugee camp at Jenin. The Israelis say they have nothing to hide but the Palestinians say the UN's decision amounts to a licence for Ariel Sharon to commit more war crimes. With me on the line from an undisclosed location in the Middle East is the UN special co-ordinator for the region, Terje Roed-Larsen. Good morning.

TERJE ROED-LARSEN: Good morning to you.

DAVID FROST: Let me begin by asking, do you feel that the fact that the fact-finding mission is not going ahead is a serious blow?

TERJE ROED-LARSEN: No what I would say is that it's regrettable that we couldn't carry through the fact-finding mission, I think it would be in the good interest of both parties to have such a neutral fact-finding mission trying to establish the facts about what happened during the battle and after the battle. It's most regrettable.

DAVID FROST: And do you stick by what you said that you'd discovered about Jenin?

TERJE ROED-LARSEN: Well I didn't discover anything in Jenin, when I was in Jenin I described what I saw for the couple of hours I was there, which was horrifying to see bodies being dug up just beneath the rubble of the site in the middle of the camp.

DAVID FROST: Are you pleased that Ariel Sharon is going to Washington, in flight en route to Washington to meet with President Bush, or does that seem as though the Americans are leaning too much towards Israel for instance?

TERJE ROED-LARSEN: No I think what happened in Washington two days ago when the foreign ministers of the United States, Russian, the UN Secretary General. Mr Kofi Annan and the foreign minister of Spain and Mr Solano on behalf of the EU met in order to discuss the current situation in the Middle East and decided that there would be an international conference at the middle of the summer is a very important backdrop for Mr Sharon's visit and what I do hope is that our American partners, in their discussions with the prime minister, will get his agreement on attending such a conference and also that his intentions will be to reach an agreement in that context.

DAVID FROST: Do you feel in fact that the UN is in a sense powerless now at this moment? Do you feel powerless?

TERJE ROED-LARSEN: Well if you look at the UN's presence in the Middle East, broadly speaking we have thousands of peacekeepers which very effectively are working along the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel. We have a very effective massive humanitarian operation which has been going on for decades with 20,000 employees, namely Unra, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and we are also working as an important part of the so-called quartet, that is Russia, the European Union, the US and the UN, in the political and diplomatic arena. I'd rather say that the UN has not in many decades played such an important diplomatic and political role here.

DAVID FROST: Mr Roed-Larsen thank you very much for joining us.

TERJE ROED-LARSEN: A pleasure being with you.

DAVID FROST: Thank you.


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