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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-07-29

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:


Wednesday, 29 July, 1998

This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.


  • Secretary-General may send envoy to Myanmar in response to standoff between authorities and Aung Sun Suu Kyi.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency says it will continue to focus on ongoing monitoring and verification in Iraq.
  • Secretary-General's special envoy to Angola scheduled to arrive in Luanda on Friday.
  • As UN prepares special conference on Sierra Leone, Secretary- General meets with its President.
  • Secretary-General says UN must be able to judge when situations are too dangerous for its staff to operate.
  • United Nations and regional organizations plan to hold first working- level meetings on conflict prevention.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan indicated on Wednesday that he may send an envoy to Myanmar in response to the standoff between the authorities and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ms. Suu Kyi has begun the sixth day of a protest in her car outside Yangon after authorities prevented her last week from meeting colleagues in her political party, according to news reports.

On Tuesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, urged the Government to resolve the standoff. This call was echoed on Wednesday by Mr. Annan, according to his Spokesman, who said the Secretary-General "shares her concern regarding this matter and hopes her appeal will be heeded."

According to Spokesman Fred Eckhard, United Nations officials have been in touch with the Myanmar authorities, and have requested that a visit by the Secretary-General's Envoy, Alvaro de Soto, be scheduled "at an appropriate date in the not-too-distant future."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will continue to focus its work in Iraq on ongoing monitoring and verification activities, according to a new report by the Agency.

The IAEA reported last October that there were "no indications of Iraq having retained any physical capability for the indigenous production of weapon-usable nuclear material in amounts of any practical significance, nor any indication Iraq has acquired or produced weapon- usable nuclear material" other than that already removed from the country by the Agency.

According to the report, which was considered by the Security Council in a closed meeting on Wednesday, Baghdad still has "a considerable intellectual resource in the form of the cadre of well- educated, highly experienced personnel who were employed in Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme."

The procedures and techniques which the IAEA will use in its ongoing monitoring and verification are "essentially the same" as those used in mapping out Iraq's secret nuclear programme. The Agency stresses that this "does not foreclose IAEA's right to investigate further any aspect of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme and to destroy, remove, or render harmless any prohibited items that may be discovered through such investigations."

During recent meetings with the Government, IAEA officials attempted to identify an individual who had allegedly offered foreign assistance to Iraq in connection with the country's clandestine nuclear programme, according to the report. The Iraqi authorities have agreed to try and locate an Iraqi expatriate who might be able to contribute to that investigation. While the IAEA has "no evidence to suggest that Iraq took advantage of the offer of external assistance under investigation," the Agency does plan to continue its efforts to locate the individual in question.

Iraq's Ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, told reporters that the IAEA had reiterated that there was no prohibited nuclear activity in his country. "It's as simple as saying that the whole disarmament area is closed and the whole file should be moving into the monitoring phase," he said.

But United States Ambassador Bill Richardson said there was absolutely no reason, based on the IAEA's report to the Security Council, to take any action favourable to Iraq. "The IAEA report today makes it absolutely clear that Iraq has made no progress; that it has failed to provide information on weapons design, on uranium enrichment, on nuclear exports," he said. "That is the United States position and I believe that will be the Security Council's position at the end of the day."

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General's special envoy to Angola, is scheduled to arrive in Luanda on Friday, according to a United Nations spokesman.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York on Wednesday that Mr. Brahimi was "likely to meet with President Dos Santos on Monday and then with Jonas Savimbi, the head of UNITA [the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola] thereafter." Mr. Eckhard added that Mr. Brahimi would also visit neighbouring countries, probably late next week.

"When he comes back, we will reassess the situation further," said Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

On Thursday, United Nations officials are expected to brief the Security Council on the results of an inquiry into last month's tragic plane crash in Cote d'Ivoire which killed the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, five staff members of the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola, and their two pilots.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday reached an agreement on aiding Angolan refugees in that country. UNHCR has registered some 30,000 new refugees from Angola. The Congolese authorities estimate the number of refugees at some 100,000, according to a United Nations spokesman.

On the eve of a special United Nations conference on Sierra Leone, Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with its President, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

"I spoke to the President this morning, and, as you know, the Nigerian authorities have flown Foday Sanko back to Sierra Leone, and I was told by the President that when he arrived, he appealed to his supporters to stop the killing, to stop maiming people," Secretary- General Kofi Annan told reporters in New York, referring to the leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

The Secretary-General said that he had used the occasion of his meeting with President Kabbah to urge him to ensure due process for all those awaiting trial in Sierra Leone.

The meeting came just one day in advance of a special conference on Sierra Leone, set to take place on Thursday at United Nations Headquarters. "We are hoping that tomorrow's meeting will not only focus on raising funds for demobilization and reintegration, but will go beyond to the reconstruction stage, and really prepare the ground for the international community to assist Sierra Leone to reconstruct, to rebuild its society and establish its institutions," said the Secretary- General.

Among the items on the agenda for Thursday's meeting are the political, human rights and security situation in Sierra Leone; the Government's plan for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and child soldiers; and the plight of refugees.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday said that the United Nations should be able to judge the relative risks of sending humanitarian aid workers into dangerous situations.

"We should be able to say it has become too dangerous for us to operate and to be effective, it has become too dangerous for us to risk that many staff and it is not worth the effort," the Secretary-General told reporters in New York.

"The aid workers are on the ground doing what they have to do, and in some cases they have paid the ultimate price," noted the Secretary- General. "We should really get the message out that attacking peacekeepers, attacking aid workers is a very serious and heinous crime, and that the international community will take whatever action it can to deal with those responsible."

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General called for a comprehensive review of the security of United Nations personnel in the wake of what he said was an alarming number of UN staff killed in operations around the world. So far this year, 17 civilian United Nations staff have been killed, while another eight people have been killed in peacekeeping missions.

The United Nations and regional organizations are planning to hold working- level meetings on pooling their efforts to prevent conflicts.

The decision came on Wednesday at the end of a two-day meeting between the United Nations and some 15 regional organizations in New York.

Among the possible forms of collaboration to be discussed at a future working-level session are measures for more regular consultations between the United Nations and regional organizations; the development of common indicators for early warning; and joint training of staff in the field of prevention.

"In an era when the principal threat to human security is increasingly coming from new and more diverse forms of conflicts, the challenge of conflict prevention goes to the very heart of the shared mission of the United Nations and regional organizations," Secretary- General Kofi Annan said, summing up the meeting's conclusions.

The Secretary-General, who chaired the event, noted that "prevention is a continuum ranging from early warning, through preventive diplomacy, preventive disarmament -- particularly of small arms -- preventive deployment, and on to peace-building, both before and after conflicts."

"We all felt that the challenge of conflict prevention goes to the heart of our mission," the Secretary-General told reporters at a press conference following the meeting. "I'm very pleased that there is a genuine will to cooperate, and that we are going to hopefully see an improved relationship between the UN and regional organizations."

The Secretary-General noted that regional organizations were already cooperating in a number of areas, notably Kosovo.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <> - email:

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