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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-05-31

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






Wednesday, May 31, 2000


This morning, the Council held closed consultations to discuss the text of a draft resolution on Western Sahara.

At 4 p.m., the Council expects to go into formal meetings to vote on extending the mandates of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights. Both missions' current mandates were set to expire today.

Later this afternoon, the Secretary-General's report on Cyprus is expected to go to the Council.

On Thursday afternoon, the Security Council received an update from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The two Governments have sent delegations to Algiers for proximity talks under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity and its chair, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Currently, there are indications that Eritrea has withdrawn to its positions of the status quo ante of May 6, 1998, as the Security Council has called for, but that Ethiopia has yet to do so.

In a statement to the press following the consultations, Council President Wang Yingfan of China welcomed the resumption of the proximity talks and said the Council fully supported the OAU's efforts.

Today is the last day of the Council Presidency of Ambassador Wang Yingfan. On Thursday, Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France will begin his presidency for the month of June by holding bilateral consultations with other Council members on the program of work for the coming month.



Today in southern Lebanon, Prime Minister Salim el-Hoss and his Cabinet, along with more than 100 Parliamentary deputies, participated in an extraordinary session of Parliament in the town of Bint Jbeil. The legislators discussed the need for reconstruction in southern Lebanon following Israel's withdrawal.

The special session has been one of the largest signs of increased presence by the Lebanese authorities in the south, along with the arrival of a growing number of police and civilian officers.

The United Nations is continuing work on technical assessment for mine clearance in southern Lebanon, with a team from the UN Mine Action Service in southern Lebanon today. The team is due to return to New York Thursday and report on how to proceed, and is expected to recommend urgent support for mine awareness programs.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) expects to deploy troops trained in demining by July 1, and a demining brigade from the Ukraine is expected to arrive shortly.

The Special Envoy, Terje Roed Larsen, met today in Damascus with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. After the meeting concluded, Larsen said that he was "very pleased" that he and al-Sharaa "are in full agreement on every matter related to the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon."

Before arriving in Syria, Larsen Tuesday also went to the Lebanese border, where he said that Israel and its ally, the South Lebanon Army, have left the interior of southern Lebanon. He added that the UN technical work to confirm that Israel has pulled back to the internationally recognized border is continuing.

UN cartographic work is proceeding on the ground, in its effort to mark a practical line based on the 1923 border, for the purposes of verifying Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

Asked about the Shebaa Farms, the Spokesman said he was not aware of any bilateral discussions of that issue.

Eckhard emphasized that the Secretary-General's recent report was clear in stating that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon's area of operations did not include the Shebaa Farms, which fell instead within the area of operations of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights. For the purposes of confirming Israel's withdrawal in compliance with Resolutions 425 and 426, the area to be confirmed does not include Shebaa Farms.



In a statement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "I was pleased to learn of the decision of the Western European and Others Group to admit Israel as a temporary member."

He said the regional group's decision "rectifies a long-standing anomaly" and should pave the way for Israel to participate on an equal footing with other nations in the main organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General called the decision "particularly welcome" given hopes for progress for peace in the Middle East.



The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) reports that the military situation has been relatively quiet with no fighting between UN peacekeepers and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) fighters for the past 10 days.

Efforts continued to end the encirclement by the RUF of the more than 250 UN personnel at Kuiva and Kailahun, and to restore the UN peacekeepers' freedom of movement.

Reinforcement of the mission also continues, with 11,280 personnel reported to be deployed as of today.

The UN assessment mission headed by Gen. Manfred Eisele, formerly UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, is scheduled to leave New York today. The mission will review and assess UN operations in response to the crisis that erupted in Sierra Leone on May 1.

The Spokesman added, in response to questions, that Eisele will travel with several UN Secretariat staff members.

Asked whether a proposed 3,000 additional West African troops would join the UN Mission, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General's view, after consulting with West African heads of state, was that "any additional troops that come in should be under UN command."



The Secretary-General leaves this afternoon for Atlanta, Georgia, where he will appear from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday as the featured guest on CNN's World Report Conference, moderated by Riz Khan.

The Secretary-General will participate in other activities connected with CNN's 20th anniversary celebration, and may also hold bilateral meetings with other participants, including former US President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young.



The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced that today marked the beginning of international mail service to and from the province. To mark the occasion, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, wrote the Secretary-General a letter saying that "many Kosovar families who are dispersed all over the world will now be brought closer by letters."

The UN Mission said there are 90 post offices open around Kosovo, compared with 130 before the war. The postal service is currently using 60 motorcycles and 10 vans to deliver mail.

The Mission also issued a press release on the visit to Pristina by NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who warned Kosovar leaders against continued violence.



The first meeting of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum concluded earlier today in Malmo, Sweden, with the adoption of the Malmo Declaration. In it, the world's environment ministers agreed that the 2002 conference to review the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro should address the major challenges to sustainable development, including the pervasive effects of poverty and "excessive and wasteful consumption and inefficient resource use."

On Tuesday, Yongjian Jin, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, conveyed to the Secretary-General the results of the drawing of lots for speakers' positions for the September 6-8 Millennium Summit, which took place last Friday. According to preliminary information, there will be 115 Heads of State present at the Summit, as well as 47 Heads of Government, five Vice Presidents and one Crown Prince. The observer for Palestine has indicated that it will be represented at the highest level.

On Thursday at 1 p.m., Angela King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, will launch a book on "The Optional Protocol: Text and Materials" in Conference Room 1. Namibia and Senegal became the first States Parties to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women over the past week; there are also currently 36 signatories to the Optional Protocol.

The Food and Agriculture Organization today appealed for $32.6 million to bring urgently needed help to people in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti.


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