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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-27

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 JOHN MILLS

ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, January 27, 2000

ANNAN'S MEETINGS IN MOSCOW FOCUS ON CHECHNYA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Moscow this morning for two days of talks with Russian leaders, including his first encounter with Acting President Vladimir Putin.

This afternoon, he met with Gennady Seleznyov, who was re-elected last week as Speaker of the newly-elected Duma, or lower house of Parliament. Their discussions focused almost exclusively on Chechnya. The Speaker described the security situation in the territory and the Government's efforts to care for the refugees and to resettle them eventually.

The Secretary-General said that the international community was against terrorism but also wanted to see the protection of innocent civilians in conflict situations. He expressed his alarm at the toll the conflict had taken among the civilian population.

Annan then met with Egor Stroyev, the President of the Foundation Council, or upper house of Parliament. They talked about Russia's relations with international organizations and the situation in Kosovo, but again spent the most time discussing Chechnya. Stroyev said he was confident that the fighting would be over soon. He said that elections in Chechnya were set for March 26, and it was hoped that everything would be resolved by then.

At a press encounter afterward, the Secretary-General said he hoped for an end of the conflict as soon as possible so that civilians can get on with their lives. But in the meantime, he added, "we should do everything we can to protect and ensure their rights."

This evening, according to his schedule, the Secretary-General attended a private dinner with former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING POSTPONED

At the request of the Presidency of the Security Council, the Council has postponed its consultations, which had been scheduled to begin at 10:30 in the morning, until Friday, at 10 a.m.

The Council still has several items on its agenda before it finishes its work for this month. In particular, it will have to vote on the mandates of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), both of which are set to expire at month's end. In both cases, the Secretary-General has recommended in his most recent reports to the Security Council a six-month extension, until July 31.

The Council has scheduled consultations on both Missions for Friday. Also, it is expected to take up the request by Tuvalu, the small Pacific Island chain, to be admitted as a Member State of the United Nations.

Asked about the reason for the postponement, the Spokesman said that the President of the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, was holding meetings with African Heads of State who were in New York this week.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES GUINEA-BISSAU ELECTIONS

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General said that the successful completion of elections in Guinea-Bissau and the imminent swearing-in of President-elect Kumba Yala brings to a close the transitional Government established by the Economic Community of West African States' Abuja Peace Accord.

The completion of the elections also ushers in a new democratic and peaceful political future for the country, he added.

ANNAN WELCOMES PROMISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL RULE IN COTE D'IVOIRE

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon by the Spokesman, the Secretary-General welcomed the official announcement by the authorities in Cote d'Ivoire of a programme to return the country to Constitutional rule by October 31. The United Nations is ready to extend electoral assistance to Cote d'Ivoire aimed at ensuring a credible and transparent process.

Also Wednesday, the Spokesman issued a statement on the mission to Colombia of Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for International Assistance to Colombia, Jan Egeland.

EX-RWANDAN BUSINESMAN CONVICTED OF GENOCIDE

Today, in Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced Alfred Musema, a former Rwandan businessman, to life in prison. He was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity -- specifically, extermination and rape.

Musema is the first person sentenced by the Tribunal who was not a member of the Government or the military. He was the director of a tea factory in Kibuye, West of Rwanda, and took part in several attacks against Tutsis in 1994. In one attack on a group of 300 to 400 Tutsis seeking refuge in a cave, he ordered that the entrance to the cave be sealed with wood and set on fire. Only one person survived the attack.

HEAD OF UN CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL HOLDS FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE

The new President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Claude Jorda, gave his first press conference today in The Hague. In his introductory statement he expressed his worry over the length of the trials being conducted by the Tribunal and vowed to draw maximum advantage from the report of the group of experts on the Tribunals, which was published last Tuesday.

Jorda outlined his approach for more expeditious trials and a more efficient management of the caseload. The complete text of his remarks is available in a press release from the Tribunal.

UN TO LAUNCH NEW WEB SITE AT DAVOS

On Friday, the Secretary-General's effort to launch a Global Compact among the United Nations, business and civil society will leap into cyberspace with the launching of a new Global Compact web site.

The site -- www.unglobalcompact.org -- will be inaugurated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland at approximately 5:45 p.m. local time on Friday. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, International Labour Organisation Director-General Juan Somavia and United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Klaus Toepfer will attend that ceremony.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The monthly report to the United Nations on the Kosovo Force transmitted to the Security Council by the Secretary-General made available today, covers the period from November 24 to December 14. The report said there was no significant change in the security situation in Kosovo since the last report and noted that ethnically motivated violence remains a major cause for concern, with continued tension in areas such as Mitrovica, Gnjilane and Orahovac.

At 11 this morning in the ECOSOC Chamber, the Economic and Social Council opened its session for 2000 with a ceremonial handover from its old President, former Ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci of Italy, to its new President, Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia. The Council then moved to elect its Bureau for the 2000 session. Its first full session will be next Tuesday, February 1.

The NetAid Foundation issued a press release in New York on its donation of $1.7 million for poverty reduction projects in Africa and Kosovo. The organization -- which was set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with Cisco Systems -- sponsored the NetAid concert last October. So far, NetAid has received donations of $12 million.

Also today, the World Food Programme issued a press release in Rome on its approval of a $2.7 million emergency operation to feed some 100,000 people affected by the current drought in Djibouti.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a press release simultaneously in Geneva, Brussels and New York welcoming the retrieval in Sudan of 75 people, including 54 children, many of whom had been abducted from Northern Uganda by the Lord's Resistance Army.


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