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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-04-11

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY DAVID WIMHURST

ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESMAN

FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PROPOSED KOREAN SUMMIT

In a statement issued in Havana, Cuba, Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the agreement to hold a summit between Kim Dae-Jung, President of the Republic of Korea, and Kim Jong Il, Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, on June 12-14 in Pyongyang.

"It is my strong hope that these historic talks produce substantive results," the Secretary-General said. "I would also like to express my full support for the continuation of efforts aimed at advancing national reconciliation, exchanges, cooperation, peace and unification in the Peninsula."

He also expressed his readiness to contribute to efforts to reduce tensions and promote mutual confidence in the region.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS CUBAN PRESIDENT IN HAVANA

The Secretary-General met this morning with Cuban President Fidel Castro for the second time since arriving in Havana Monday. The meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 10:30, was expected to last for about two hours.

Annan arrived in Havana Monday night to a warm welcome from Castro, who accompanied the Secretary-General to his guest quarters, where the two leaders talked for about 20 minutes.

Today's more formal meeting takes place at the Palace of the Revolution and was to be followed by a ceremony at the Jos&eacute; Marti Monument, where the Secretary-General will lay a wreath. He will then visit the Jos&eacute; Marti Memorial.

Today at 4 p.m., the Secretary-General will deliver a lecture at the University of Havana and answer questions from students. Following his lecture, the Secretary-General will go on a walking tour of old Havana before attending a private dinner.

On Wednesday, the Secretary-General will address the opening session of the Group of 77 South Summit. The rest of the day will be taken up by bilateral meetings with Heads of State attending the Conference.

ANNAN'S WESTERN SAHARA ENVOY CONCLUDES TRIP TO REGION

The Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, James Baker, concluded his visit to the region today. He was scheduled to fly to Madrid today after visiting Algiers, Tindouf and Rabat since Saturday.

He was unable to make a planned trip to Mauritania today, but instead spoke with that country's President, Maaouya Ould Taya, by telephone.

Baker met on Saturday with Prime Minister Ahmed Benbitour and Justice Minister Ahmed Ouyahia of Algeria; on Sunday with the President of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz; and on Monday with King Mohamed VI of Morocco.

Baker said in Algiers at the beginning of his trip that his visit was intended "to see if we can find a way to reconcile some of the differences that have grown over the implementation of the Settlement Plan between Morocco and the Polisario Front." He added, "We want to see if there is a way to unlock the logjam, either by resolving the differences that the parties now have over the Settlement Plan or perhaps even see some other approaches that would finally, fairly and fully resolve the dispute over the Western Sahara."

Baker is scheduled to travel to Paris Wednesday on his way back to the United States, and he is expected to meet with French President Jacques Chirac.

INDONESIA, UN MISSION SIGN MEMORANDUM ON EAST TIMOR BORDER

Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos, the Force Commander of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, the military commander of West Timor, signed today in Dili a Memorandum of Understanding on border issues.

The 12-article document, which covers security, boundary crossing, the passage of refugees, humanitarian assistance and other issues, is designed to facilitate close cooperation between UNTAET and the Indonesian Armed Forces.

According to the Memorandum, UN Military Observers will be stationed at 12 agreed junction points and will coordinate between UNTAET and the Indonesian Army when the two parties want to engage in dialogue.

ANNAN WELCOMES DISENGAGEMENT PLAN FOR DR OF CONGO

In a statement issued through his Spokesman Monday night, the Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of a disengagement plan of belligerent forces from their current confrontation lines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of the plan by the Political Committee established under the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement. He said it was now the duty of all belligerents to ensure that their military forces comply with the decision taken, and that they ensure the security and full freedom of movement of UN personnel.

The Secretary-General said the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo urgently needs specialized military units to prepare for the deployment of the 5,500-strong force.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Bernard Miyet is scheduled to meet with troop-contributing countries Thursday to present the Mission's needs.

SG ENVOY BEGINS HORN OF AFRICA TRIP

World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Catherine Bertini today left Rome to begin a four-nation tour as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on the Drought in the Horn of Africa to the worse affected areas in the region.

Bertini will start with a three-day visit to Ethiopia. On Wednesday, she is expected to go to Gode in the southeast, where there are reports of severe malnutrition especially among children.

She will go on to Djibouti, Eritrea and Kenya, ending her trip on April 19.

According to WFP, an estimated 16 million people are at risk of food insecurity or famine due to prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET WEDNESDAY

The Security Council has not scheduled any meetings for today, but it is scheduled to hold consultations on the UN Office in Angola on Wednesday. The Council members are expecting a report from the Secretary-General on the Office's work; however, if the report does not come out in time today, the Council's schedule may be changed.

On Thursday, the Council expects to hear a briefing, also in informal consultations, from Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). He will discuss his report on the organizational plan for the Commission.

SG ENVOY CALLS FOR WEEK OF TRANQUILLITY FOR CHILDREN

Today in Geneva, Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict proposed that the international community call on all warring factions in all ongoing conflicts to adhere to a simultaneous week-long cease-fire each year for the sake of children.

The proposal for a systematic "week of tranquillity" was among a series of activities and initiatives outlined by Otunnu in his address to the Commission on Human Rights. (More details can be found in a press release.)

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which monitors two border checkpoints between Chechnya and Ingushetia, there has been a significant increase in returns to Chechnya last week. More than 5,000 Chechens have returned since the presidential elections on March 26 and more than 500 are seen returning each day. No new arrivals have been registered in Ingushetia, according to UNHCR's briefing notes.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Human Rights Office of the UN Mission has identified 182 victims of human trafficking since June last year, many of whom had been forced into prostitution. Sixty-four of these came from Moldova. Sixty others came from Romania, 37 from Ukraine and the rest from other former Eastern Bloc countries. Sixty-two of them, who wished to be repatriated, were assisted by the UN mission and its international partners in the process. (For the complete transcript of the briefing given today in Sarajevo click here. )

The United Nations has launched a new "flash appeal" for Madagascar seeking $15.7 million from donors to provide urgent humanitarian assistance for over 300,000 people affected by the devastation wrought by Cyclone Hudah. The appeal also noted that half the villages were isolated and could be reached only by helicopters. Currently there are only two helicopters operating, and more are needed.

The weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme indicated that, during the period from April 1-7, Iraq exported 8.6 million barrels of oil for an estimated revenue of $173 million.

The weekly update on UN humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan notes the impact of the drought in southern Afghanistan. In Herat, the World Food Programme (WFP) has surveyed one district and found that livestock are dying because food for animals is not available. The drought has also been linked to a shortage of drinking water in the city of Kandahar.

Today's briefing notes from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees note that more than 1,000 Afghans requested assistance last Saturday to return to Afghanistan from Iran, under a repatriation program agreed to in February between UNHCR and Iran. On Sunday, 69 Afghans crossed the border into Afghanistan after receiving 40 dollars and instructions on mine awareness from UNHCR; more returns are expected in coming days.

Vanuatu has become the 78th Member State to pay its full contribution to the regular budget for this year. They made a payment of $80,000, which covers dues owed for last year's outstanding regular budget assessment and for this year's full assessment.

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