Mr Chairman,

1. At the outset, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, I would like to welcome you, Ambassador Gunaajav Batjargal, as the Chairperson of Working Group A (WGA) and thank you together with the Coordinator of Working Group B (WGB), Mr Svein Mykkeltveit, for convening the Twenty-First Joint Meeting of Working Groups A and B. The Group trusts that under your stewardship and guidance, discussions will lead to fruitful conclusions and I assure you of the Group's full cooperation.

2. The Group also thanks the Executive Secretary, Mr Lassina Zerbo, for his opening remarks at the commencement of the meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to convey the Group's appreciation to HE Ambassador Jargalsaikhan Enkhsaikhan, the former Permanent Representative of Mongolia, for his contribution during his term as Chairperson of Working Group A.

Mr Chairman,

3. At the plenary of the Working Group B last week, the Group reiterated its position on the importance of promoting a balanced approach towards the three main dimensions of the verification regime. In this regard, the Group would like to reiterate the importance of more efficient use of resources through a balanced approach in the allocation of funds, primarily safeguarding investments already made and work in progress. This will allow for the correction and adjustment of pace in the imbalance that already exists between the three main dimensions, namely the International Monitoring System, the International Data Centre and On-Site Inspection.

4. The Group took note of the presentation by the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) on the adjustments made to the initial draft Programme and Budget proposals for 2014, on 14 August 2013. The Group is prepared for a more interactive and fruitful exchange during such presentations, as the current practice does not make room for this. As a result of this, States Signatories feel deprived of fruitful discussions with the PTS before any decisions could be made. 5. While the Group takes note of the importance of the Storage Area Network in the verification system, the Group once again requests the PTS to provide States Signatories with a detailed explanation on the option preferred by the PTS on the issue.

Mr Chairman,

6. The Group recalls CTBT/PTS/INF.1011/Rev.1 on mechanisms to manage post-certification activity (PCA) costs and requests updated information on PTS efforts to curb such costs. The Group also calls on all States Signatories to cooperate with the PTS in a joint effort to lower costs for PCAs.

7. With regard to the working modality agreed at the Thirty-Sixth Session of WGB on the use of video-streamed briefings, the Group appreciates this initiative as it has proved to be very useful. In order to maximize its usage, the Group would like to suggest the improvement of its accessibility on the Experts Communication System (ECS).

8. Whilst the Group welcomes the flexibility of trying out the new working methods, in this case the duration of the meetings, the Group would like to suggest that the apportionment of the breaks in between the sessions be reviewed, in order to allow delegates to have internal discussions before resuming with the scheduled sessions.

Mr Chairman,

9. The Group continues to uphold the importance of capacity building and training, and commends the PTS for its continuous efforts to increase the capabilities of all States Signatories to participate in the verification regimes through its National Data Centre (NDC) development workshops, NDC capacity building training courses and expert visits in the field for on-the-job training. Therefore, the Group reiterates its position that capacity building activities should be funded through the Regular Budget.

10. The Group takes note that a Midterm Strategy for the period 2014 to 2017 was published on 20 August 2013. The Group expects to have discussion on this document during the Forty-Fourth Session of WGA, when States Signatories may have had the appropriate time to assess its content.

11. With these remarks, the Group of 77 and China reiterates its unwavering commitment to these sessions and is confident that the delegations attending the current sessions will engage in fruitful discussions.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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