SG Will Go to Tehran; Deadlock in the Middle East; Amos Briefing; UN Literacy Prizes

SG Will Go to Tehran: Despite warnings from both Israel and the US not to attend, the SG will be going to Tehran, Iran from August 26-31 to take part in the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. His spokesperson said today that the UN chief takes “seriously” his responsibility and that of the UN to pursue diplomatic engagement with all of the world body’s Member States. “The Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people,” the spokesperson said. “These include Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”

Deadlock in the Middle East: The new USG for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the SC today on the situation in the Middle East, noting that the prospects of regional peace were fading and that there is increased urgency to resolve the stalemated Arab-Israeli Peace process. Despite such stagnation, Feltman expressed that the two-State solution remained the “best available and most realistic option” and all Member States had a responsibility to consider their actions and language in light of that goal.

Amos Briefs Press: USG for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, briefed and fielded questions from the press today about her trip to Syria and Lebanon last week. She noted that not only has the situation worsened since her last visit in March, with over 2.5 people in need of assistance, but that limited access due to security and “funding is also holding us back.” She urged the international community to donate more generously.

UN Literacy Prizes: The UN awarded the literacy programs in Bhutan, Colombia, Indonesia and Rwanda with UNESCO’s 2012 International Literacy Prizes. The agency announced in a press release yesterday that the awards, worth $20,000 each, will be distributed at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, on September 6 as part of the celebrations for International Literacy Day, observed annually on September 8.