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Press Release 01/50

STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL


Rome, 7 September 2001 - The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was surprised by some reactions and by the statement by a member of the Italian Government, as reported in the Corriere della Sera of 7 September 2001.

The Director-General of FAO has complete respect for Italy's national sovereignty as well as the sovereignty of each of the other 178 Member States of FAO. He was sensitive to the concerns expressed by the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Government, Italy being the host country, and he accepted to bring the issue before the FAO Council, in accordance with Article XXV of the General Rules of the Organization. On the same day of his meeting with the Italian authorities, he designated the FAO experts who, together with the Italian Government officials, started to study alternative locations in Italy which might ensure the success of the World Food Summit: five years later.

To a journalist's question regarding the location of the World Food Summit:five years later scheduled for November 2001: "Do you exclude Rome?" , the Director-General replied: "I don't exclude Rome". In fact, he does not have the power to change the decision of the FAO Conference, adopted unanimously on 23 November 1999, to convene its 31st Session in Rome from 2 to 13 November 2001, in the course of which the Summit is to take place from 5 to 9 November. According to the FAO Constitution (ratified by Italy on 10 July 1947, following Law N. 546 of 16 May 1947), only the FAO Council can modify the Conference decision to hold its meeting in Rome.

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