Skip to main content

Touré: Key Treaty Issue Can Be Resolved

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré said Friday that he
believed the issue of who the WCIT-12 telecom treaties apply to -- operating
agencies or recognized operating agencies -- would be resolved by the time the
conference in Dubai ends next week. The U.S. has said that is one of the key
issues at the conference, which is attempting to revamp/update International
Telecommunications Regulations.

"The U.S. position is very clear on that," he told B&C/Multi in a press conference from Dubai on Friday, "and we
understand it." But, speaking like a diplomat, Touré suggested the two
sides of the issue were closer than they thought. "There is no real contradiction
with other positions," he said. "I believe that, as a negotiator, I
see things in common. What is happening is that one camp tells you what it
wants to see in the document, the other camp is telling you what it doesn't
want to see. In reality they are saying the same thing. The discussions are
ongoing, and we will see what are the issues that may be difficult for each of
the two parties, and then we will come to compromises. I am sure this issue
will be resolved."

For Ambassador Terry Kramer's part, he has said that the
U.S. is not likely to negotiate on the definition issue because of the
"scope creep" of expanding the definition.

"Scope creep" just about sums up the U.S. concerns
about the conference in general. While its members have said they recognize the
need to address broadband build-outs and adoption, they fear that will be a
lever for some countries -- Russia, China, Syria and the Arab states -- to
assert more control over the content and distribution of information over the
Internet. That is a nonstarter, and more than that a Walk away from the
table" issue for the U.S., Canada and others.

Touré said he planned to meet Monday, Dec. 10, with members
of "civil society" (public interest and activist groups) so he could
bring their views to the conference. He did not suggest any linkage, but he
also said that the conference was prepared for a cyberattack that had been
threatened for Saturday.

He said precautions had been taken so that, whatever
happened, "the work of the conference will proceed unabated. I will not
tolerate extremists who try to deny others the freedom of expression they claim
for themselves," he said.