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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-20

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

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, January 20, 2000

ANNAN MEETS CHAIRMAN OF US SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

This morning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Helms then addressed members of the Security Council. That gathering was open to other delegations and to reporters.

The Senator covered a range of issues regarding the United Nations. He appealed to the Council to learn from past mistakes and make the Security Council a more effective tool for peace and security. However, he said, the American people will never accept the claims of the United Nations to be the "sole source for legitimacy on the use of force" in the world.

Asked about the Secretary-General's reaction to the speech by Helms, the Spokesman noted that Annan had met Helms earlier and exchanged views, but was unable to attend the speech. Other UN officials were present, he added. The Secretary-General had no response at this time to Helms's comments.

ANNAN WELCOMES AGREEMENTS BETWEEN TURKEY AND GREECE

The Secretary-General, in a statement through his spokesman, said that Turkey and Greece today signed a series of cooperation agreements in Ankara, Turkey, during the first official visit of a Greek Foreign Minister to Turkey in almost 40 years.

Both Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem pledged to push ahead with further improvement between the two countries. Foreign Minister Cem is expected in Athens in early February.

"The Secretary-General is encouraged by these developments," the statement said. "He warmly welcomes the constructive steps taken by both Governments to establish a new basis of cooperation and understanding. The Secretary-General is confident that the improved climate will lead to a better future for all the people in the region."

INDONESIAN LEGAL TEAM VISITS EAST TIMOR

Six Indonesian lawyers, representing top officers of the Indonesian military, arrived in Dili today. Coincidentally, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor today established the East Timorese Customs Service. The Indonesian lawyers therefore became the new immigration officers' first customers, and had their passports stamped with the UN insignia.

The lawyers then held meetings with three religious leaders to collect information concerning the role of the Indonesian military in the post-referendum chaos during which hundreds of East Timorese were killed. A group of protesters followed them around carrying posters, which in the local language said, "We love the Indonesian people, but we hate the actions of the Indonesian military. Justice must go forward."

Meanwhile, the equipment and personnel have arrived that will permit Dili to have a modern mortuary. The refrigeration units arrived Wednesday, along with 1300 kilograms of supplies. Two forensic experts arrived from New South Wales, Australia today.

ANNAN MEETS WITH TRADE UNION REPRESENTATIVES

At 11:30 this morning, the Secretary-General met with Bill Jordan, the General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), and with other senior trade union representatives.

They agreed on the critical need for cooperation to deal with the challenges of globalization. In particular, the Secretary-General and the union leaders issued an agreement emphasizing the importance of the Global Compact, which asks corporations to demonstrate good corporate citizenship by abiding by human rights, labor rights and environmental principles.

ANNAN PROPOSES EXPANDED UN MISSION TO DR OF CONGO

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) came out as a document late Wednesday.

In his proposal for an expansion of the UN peacekeeping operation in the DRC, Annan recommended the deployment of a total force of 5,537 concentrated around four reinforced infantry battalions. These will be located at four separate sites: Mbandaka, Mbuji Mayi, Kisangani and a point yet to be determined in the southeast.

An eventual third phase, assuming the parties' continued compliance with their agreement, would involve such issues as the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the DRC; agreement on the peaceful disarmament, demobilization and integration of the armed groups named in the Lusaka Cease-Fire Agreement; and border security.

The Secretary-General also reported on the dire humanitarian situation in the country, where nearly 1 million people are displaced, and he called for a major improvement in funding and resources to address mounting assistance needs.

In this context, he also mentioned that the official exchange rate set by the Government has led some agencies -- which are now being charged as much as some $600 a night for a hotel in the interior -- to consider suspending operations in the country.

The Secretary-General reiterated his position that the Lusaka Agreement remains the best hope for the resolution of the conflict and for the time being the only prospect of achieving it.

"This month will provide the leaders of the countries concerned with a unique opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the agreement," he said, referring to the plans for a week-long series of high-level open meetings on the DRC in the Security Council event next week.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked to respond to comments by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the UN report on Kosovo, the Spokesman declined to make a specific comment, but noted that, given the UN presence on the ground in Kosovo, "we have every basis for a realistic assessment of the situation there, which is what is contained in the Secretary-General's report."

In response to a question on the selection of a Coordinator for Kuwaiti detainees, the Spokesman said no names have been submitted for that position yet. The Secretary-General is authorized to appoint a Coordinator, he said, but is at this point focusing on the selection of an Executive Chairman for the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

At 3 p.m. this afternoon, the Ukraine will sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ukraine becomes the 93rd country to have signed the Rome Statute; so far, six countries have ratified the Statute. The Statute must be ratified by 60 countries before the Court can enter into force.

The United Nations Children's Fund issued a press release on the trafficking of children and women, which Executive Director Carol Bellamy said is expanding.

The World Health Organization issued a press release on a new worldwide effort to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, one of the world's leading causes of disability.

Azerbaijan becomes 21st Member State to pay their UN regular budget dues in full for the year 2000, with a payment of approximately 67,000 dollars.

Erick de Mul, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, will be the guest at the noon briefing tomorrow; his appearance at today's noon briefing was postponed.


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