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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-05
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHIGHLIGHTS
OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, August 5, 2002
ANNAN, COUNCIL TO DISCUSS IRAQI OFFER DURING WORKING LUNCH
On entering the building this morning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, responding to a journalist's question on Iraq, said he would be discussing with Security Council members in a working luncheon this afternoon Iraq's letter of last week inviting UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to Baghdad for technical discussions.
He reminded the journalists present that the Iraqi letter was at variance with what Security Council resolutions require. "We have very clear requirements," he said, "and if Iraq were to honor them, I think the invitation could be considered."
He laid out the Security Council requirements, saying, "I think the way Mr. Blix sees it, he and his team would go to Iraq, once Iraq agrees, spend about 60 days to determine what has to be done...and report back to the Security Council. This is what the Iraqis will have to look at."
He observed that it was interesting that Iraq wrote to invite the inspectors at this stage, adding, "if they were to agree to the position that Mr. Blix has laid out for them, in accordance with UN resolutions, we may be closer."
In this exchange, the Secretary-General also clarified that Blix's interview with Al-Hayat newspaper published Sunday, in which he said he did not want to go to Baghdad until Iraq had agreed to readmit the inspectors, actually predated receipt of the Iraqi letter.
He said that he hopes to formulate a response to the Iraqi letter this afternoon. "I don't think we should drag it out," he remarked.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals comments, the Spokesman said that he was reaffirming the primacy of Security Council resolutions and saying what Blix could do, consistent with those resolutions. He had said that there was some variance between what Iraq was asking and what the Council requires.
Asked whether Blix had gone on vacation, the Spokesman said that he had left Friday evening, after asking the Secretary-General whether there was any objection to his departure and being told there was not. Blix has returned to Sweden, but can be called back at any time.
Asked about the al-Hayat article, the Spokesman clarified that the interview with Blix took place last Thursday, before the receipt of the Iraqi letter later that day. It would have been better if al-Hayat made clear that the interview was conducted on Thursday, he said.
ANNAN URGES ESCAPE FROM DOWNWARD SPIRAL IN MIDDLE EAST
On Sunday, following the latest terror attacks in the Middle East, the Secretary-General issued a statement on the violence in Safad, in the north of Israel, in which at least 10 people were killed and 50 injured, and the killings that took place when a gunman opened fire in Jerusalem.
He says, Does it need saying, yet again, that these attacks on civilians are immoral and illegal, as well as politically counter-productive?
He goes on to say that one side resorts to indiscriminate terror, and the other responds with retaliation that is equally devastating in its effects on ordinary people. Each feeds the anger and hatred of the other, he says, and then yet more innocent lives are swept away in the backlash.
The Secretary-General says we must escape from this endless downward spiral, and, in the statement, he appeals to both sides to refrain from further retaliation and to apply themselves, without further delay, to working out the details of the solution which, he says, we all know must come sooner or later: the solution called for by the Security Council, of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in secure and recognized borders.
He concludes, For humanitys sake, let it come sooner rather than later.
Speaking to reporters this morning, the Secretary-General said that the international community should re-energize its efforts in the region, and should be seen as taking concrete steps towards a Palestinian State and towards ending terrorism and ensuring security for Israel. Both communities, he said, must be convinced that we are tackling their core issues.
In addition to the Secretary-Generals statement, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen also issued a statement strongly condemning the Palestinian violence on Sunday. He said these despicable acts of murder against civilians are both morally repugnant and a direct violation of international law and said that this alarming escalation of violence must be met with intensified international efforts to end the bloodshed.
Also today, the General Assembly resumed its Tenth Emergency Special Session dealing with the Middle East, to discuss the Secretary-Generals report, issued last week, on the incidents that took place in Jenin last April.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals comments on how the Quartet dealing with the Middle East and other parties should re-energize their efforts, the Spokesman said he did not intend to criticize the slowness of the progress, but to emphasize the need for more work, to get progress on the political track that could have a calming impact.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS PROGRAM OF WORK TUESDAY
Apart from its working luncheon with the Secretary-General, there are no consultations or meetings of the Security Council scheduled for today.
On Tuesday morning, starting at 10:30, the Council will discuss its program of work for August. It is also expected to have consultations on recent developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO RETURN TO GAMBIA, GUINEA-BISSAU
Following their meeting at UN Headquarters on 30 July, the Secretary-General has asked his Special Envoy for Gambia and Guinea Bissau, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, to return to the region to help consolidate the recent resumption of peaceful cooperation between the two countries following a period of mounting tensions in their relations.
Gbeho will explore with Presidents Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh of Gambia and Kumba Yala of Guinea-Bissau the ways in which their two governments could implement speedily and fully the commitments they agreed to in Kanilai, Gambia, on July 4, following a bilateral ministerial meeting facilitated by Gbeho. The Special Envoy will seek to build on the momentum also created by the reconciliation meeting held by the two Heads of State, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, in the margins of the recent summit in Durban, South Africa.
The Secretary-General has further directed his Special Envoy to travel to Addis Ababa and Abuja to brief the Interim Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Mr. Amara Essy, and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Executive Secretary, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, on the UN efforts to promote the consolidation of peaceful relations between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. The Special Envoy will then travel to Dakar to brief the ECOWAS Chairman, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal.
UNHCR SHOCKED BY REBEL ATTACK ON UGANDA REFUGEE CAMP
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed shock at the rebel attack on Acholi Pii refugee camp in northern Uganda housing tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees.
An estimated 24,000 refugees have fled into the bush following a pre-dawn attack by insurgents from the Lord's Resistance Army in which several refugees were reported killed.
Witnesses said that rebels set shelters in Acholi Pii on fire, and that Lords Resistance Army troops were in the process of stealing the refugees' belongings as the camp's residents fled into the bush.
UNHCR staff held urgent meetings in Kampala this morning with Uganda's Second Deputy Prime Minister and other government officials to discuss refugee camp security.
Acholi Pii was previously attacked last Wednesday. The region has experienced insecurity since the mid-1980s. There are an estimated 500,000 displaced Ugandans living region.
AFGHAN AUTHORITIES RESPOND TO ATTACK ON FAO COMPOUND
The local authorities in Afghanistan have decided to post armed guards around the clock outside all UN premises in Kandahar, after the compound of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was damaged by a grenade attack last Thursday.
The explosion caused light damage to the building fašade and broke some windowpanes. No one was injured. An investigation is underway, but so far, no one has been apprehended. This is the first such incident since the Bonn Agreement.
The day after the attack, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and some officials from the UN agencies and the Afghan authorities visited Kandahar to assess the incident. Local Government officials in Kandahar assured Brahimi that similar attacks would not take place.
UN ENVOY IN KOSOVO DISCUSSES COOPERATION IN BALKANS REGION
Over the weekend, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, met with several senior international officials dealing with the Balkans, who discussed their efforts to facilitate regional cooperation.
Steiner and the other officials Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina; Alain Le Roy, the European Union representative in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; and Erhard Busek, Special Coordinator for the Stability Pact stressed the need for free and fair elections taking place this autumn throughout south-eastern Europe. They called upon the regions governments and political parties to respect the democratic rules of conduct in those elections.
OSHIMA SEEKS BETTER AID ENVIRONMENT IN NORTH KOREA
Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, at the conclusion of a four-day visit, said the environment for aid agencies operating in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea must improve markedly for the international community to continue to provide assistance.
He said there had been some progress but donors are frustrated and want to see tangible confidence-building measures.
A key humanitarian principle, he said, is access to assess needs and provide assistance where it is needed. He added that the United Nations does not have access to 43 out of 206 counties and aid agencies that want to monitor the effectiveness of their programmes are facing obstacles.
Oshima is currently in Beijing and goes on to the Republic of Korea and Japan before returning to New York on August 11.
ANNAN: UN COMMITTED TO HELPING LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, the Secretary-Generals High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, is today delivering a message on the Secretary-Generals behalf to a ministerial meeting of the Least Developed Countries taking place in Cotonou, Benin.
The Secretary-General says in that message that the UN family remains strongly committed to helping the Least Developed Countries to overcome the formidable obstacles to their development, and he says the challenges they face are immense but not insurmountable.
He notes recent promising developments, including the New Partnership for Africas Development and moves by several countries, including those of the European Union, to improve market access for exports from the Least Developed Countries.
FIRE OFFICIALS RESPOND, BUT NO SMOKE AT UN HEADQUARTERS
In response to questions about the appearance of New York Fire Department personnel at UN Headquarters today, the Spokesman noted that this morning, the Fire Department was notified as a precautionary measure following reports of a smoke condition on the fourth floor.
The investigation revealed that there was no smoke, but masonry dust caused by masonry grinding on the roof of the Secretariat building, which was drawn into the fire tower and subsequently onto the floors where the fire tower doors were left open.
UN Security asked that the fire tower and stairwell doors be kept closed at all times.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals travel plans, the Spokesman said that he would work at Headquarters through the end of this week, and would then take three weeks of vacation. After that, he is to visit several stops in Africa, including Johannesburg, South Africa, where he will attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The World Health Organization said today that the provision of basic health services must accompany food aid in southern Africa to avert a tremendous loss of life. The severe conditions are putting up to 14 million people at risk and WHO fears that up to 300,000 extra deaths could occur in the next six months as people weakened by hunger are more susceptible to diseases. Data coming from the region show that maternal mortality, tuberculosis and malaria are on the rise.
The United Nations Environment Programme says the upcoming edition of their magazine Our Planet features an article by US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
This afternoon, Colombia will become the 77th country to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Also this afternoon, Andorra will sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols, The Convention against Torture and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
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