Syria: In response to a speech given by Syrian President Bashar al Assad yesterday, the SG was “disappointed” that the speech did not contribute to a solution to the two-year conflict in the country. According to the SG’s Spokesperson, the speech rejects the most important element of the Geneva Communiqué of June 30, 2012: a political transition and the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers that would include representatives of all Syrians. The SG reaffirms his long-held view that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, and calls on the international community to propel the country towards peace and democracy as early in 2013 as possible. Brahimi: Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met with the President, Moaz Khattib, and Vice Presidents of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in Egypt yesterday. Today, Mr. Brahimi met with Qatar’s Prime and Foreign Affairs Ministers, and on Tuesday evening with Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Palestine: Asked about reported funding shortfalls faced by the Palestinian Authority, the Spokesperson said the SG is concerned about this, and has urged those countries that have supported the Palestinian Authority in the past to continue doing so. UNMISS: Asked about the recent arrest of a Nepalese Expert on Mission in UNMISS on human rights charges on January 4, the Spokesperson said that DPKO is following up on the matter with the Government of Nepal. He noted that Experts on Mission are put forward by their own government and the responsibility for their background, therefore, lies with them. The Spokesperson also mentioned that, to strengthen existing procedures, the Secretariat has finalized a detailed policy for vetting UN personnel. This policy has recently been approved by the SG, and the UN is rolling out implementation in the coming months.