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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-13

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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

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, June 13, 2000

COUNCIL URGED TO DEMAND RWANDA/UGANDA PULLOUT FROM CONGO

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRRC) issued today, noted that the situation in that country and the prospects for further progress in the peace process have become particularly uncertain.

Annan cited fighting around Mbandaka in the northwest and in the Kivus in the east, as well as the recent clashes in Kisangani as having cast into doubt the implementation of the April 8 cease-fire agreement.

The Secretary-General said that the continued outbreaks of fighting in violation of the cease-fire and the difficulties experienced in the inter-Congolese dialogue augur ill for the timely deployment of the second phase of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said the Secretariat would continue its preparations for deployment in the hope that conditions will soon permit it.

He also noted that deployment is also subject to delays arising from the difficulties faced by the troop-contributing countries that had undertaken to provide battalions and other units. Many of the contingents lack essential equipment without which it would be irresponsible to deploy them. In view of the recent experiences in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General said he ordered a full review and reassessment before deployment takes place.

Drawing attention to Kisangani, the Secretary-General invited the Council acting, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to demand that Rwanda and Uganda order their armed forces to desist forthwith from further fighting and withdraw from the city immediately and from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo promptly thereafter.

He also urged the Council, also acting under Chapter VII, to demand the subsequent early withdrawal of all other foreign forces in the country as foreseen in the Lusaka agreement.

In response to questions on the report, the Spokesman noted that Chapter VII of the UN Charter deals not only with the use of force, but with other levels of responses, including economic and diplomatic sanctions.

In this case, Eckhard said, sanctions could be an effective instrument if the parties do not comply with the Council's call for withdrawal. What action will be taken, he added, depends on the Security Council.

Asked about deployment of more UN troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noted that the report cited continuing problems in obtaining "the right troops with the right equipment."

The Secretary-General added in the report that he wants to rethink the troop numbers and equipment requirements in light of the recent events in Sierra Leone.

The conditions for the deployment of troops do not exist today, the Spokesman said.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES SUMMIT OF KOREAN LEADERS

In a statement issued after the briefing, the Secretary-General wholeheartedly welcomed the "historic" inter-Korean summit that began in Pyongyang today.

He saluted the vision and wisdom of General Secretary Kim Jong-il and President Kim Dae-jung and hoped that the meeting marked the beginning of a new era of mutual trust and cooperation between the two Koreas, and that it would produce substantive results.

UN MOURNS LATE SYRIAN PRESIDENT

Today, the UN flag outside Headquarters in New York is being flown at half-mast, in observance of the official mourning for President Hafez al-Assad of Syria.

The Security Council began its formal meeting today with a minute of silence in honor of President Assad.

The funeral of President Assad, who died on Saturday, was held this morning in Damascus, after which his body is to be transported to his hometown, Qardaha. Iqbal Riza, the UN chief of staff, is attending the ceremony on behalf of the Secretary-General.

LEBANON VERIFICATION WORK POSTPONED BY ASSAD FUNERAL

In Lebanon, work by a UN team on verifying Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, which had been scheduled for this afternoon, was postponed when some Lebanese experts who would accompany the UN team were absent to attend Assad's funeral.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is expected to resume verification work early Wednesday morning.

The situation in Lebanon remains quiet, the UN Mission reported.

SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD BOSNIA MISSION COULD BE SUCCESSFUL

The Security Council heard an open briefing by Jacques Klein, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Klein said he was committed to adding the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) to what he calls "the much over-looked list of United Nations successes." He noted progress in police training and judicial reform, also mentioned in the Secretary-General's recent Bosnia report, and said the Mission is preparing a medium-term plan to fulfil its core mandated tasks by the end of the year 2002.

However, he added, despite five sets of internationally-run elections in five years, no local election has yet been fought on non-ethnic and non-ideological grounds. He urged the need for "social reconstruction" in Bosnia, including the development of a national university and efforts to restore religious tolerance.

COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON ETHIOPIA-ERITREA CONFLICT

In consultations before the formal meeting began, the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on the latest developments in the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. Eritrea last week accepted a peace plan developed by the Organization of African Unity to deal with the conflict, and Ethiopia's Council of Ministers is currently meeting to consider that plan.

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi was also on hand to answer questions from Council members.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that some of Eritreas internally displaced are going home. Some 5,000 internally displaced persons at the Debarwa camp, about 30 kilometers south of the Eritrean capital, Asmara, reportedly left over the weekend for the Areza area. There are still nearly 50,000 displaced at the camp, which mainly shelters people who have fled the central Senafe front, about 100 kilometers south of Asmara.

COUNCIL TO CONSIDER RESOLUTION ON CYPRUS MISSION

On Wednesday, the Council is expected to hold consultations on Cyprus, Bougainville and Sudan. It may also go into a formal meeting on Cyprus afterward.

Asked about reported differences between the parties in Cyprus on the Secretary-General's addendum to his Cyprus report, the Spokesman said that the UN Secretariat is consulting with all concerned and hopes to resolve whatever difficulties might still exist.

UN TROOPS COUNTER RUF ATTACKS AT SIERRA LEONE BRIDGE

UN peacekeepers from the Jordanian Special Forces Company deployed at Rokel Bridge in western Sierra Leone were fire upon by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) three times between Monday evening and Tuesday morning. The Jordanians beat back three attempts by some 200 RUF fighters to cross the river by canoe toward the unit. There were no reports of UN casualties.

An Indian doctor who Monday visited the 21 UN personnel being detained at Pendembu, in the east, reported that all were in good health and that supplies were reaching them regularly. There is no change in their status.

The humanitarian situation remains a concern with the number of civilians displaced since early May reaching more than 105,000 people, more than half of whom have been displaced over the last 10 days. More than 22,000 newly displaced persons from the Makeni/Magburaka area in north central Sierra Leone have been registered at the town of Mile 91, where food distribution is scheduled to start on Wednesday. The extremely precarious security situation is an obstacle to effective aid distribution.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced that 138 children associated with the fighting forces, including 92 former child combatants, were handed over to the agency by a pro-government militia, the Civil Defence Force, on Monday.

ANNAN TO MEET INDONESIAN PRESIDENT

The Secretary-General will meet at 3 p.m. with Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid. The meeting is at the request of the Indonesian President.

Wahid was the keynote speaker at a 1:15 p.m. panel discussion on "Dialogue Among Civilizations: Towards a Culture of Peace." The panel was organized by the International Religious Foundation and Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations.

Giandomenico Picco, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General. In it he says, "In this ever shrinking world, civilizational dialogue is no longer an option it is a reality."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. Manuel Saavedra of Uruguay as Chief Military Observer of the UN Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Major-General Saavedra has served in Uruguay's Armed Forces since 1961, and is currently the General Director of the Military Institute of Branches and Specialties.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced that Executive Director Carol Bellamy will undertake a five-day, five-nation tour of the Horn of Africa beginning with a visit to Ethiopia on Thursday, and continuing to Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya. Bellamy hopes to draw renewed attention to the drought that is causing displacement and disease to millions in the region.

The Spokesman, in response to questions in recent days on reports that the United Nations had pulled out election observers from Zimbabwe, said that the United Nations did not send, nor did it have, any observers in that country. The United Nations had offered to help coordinate international electoral observers; however, the Government of Zimbabwe formally invited the United Nations on June 9 to send observers to its parliamentary elections. On Monday, the Secretariat informed the Government of Zimbabwe that it would not be able to provide observers, due to time constraints.

Asked about a possible trip by the Secretary-General to the Middle East, the Spokesman reiterated that the United Nations is waiting for confirmation of Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon before making any announcement. There is some contingency planning but a trip has not been announced yet.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia announced today that the report upon which the Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, based her decision not to open a criminal investigation into NATOs 1999 air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is now available. A copy of the report can be found on the Tribunals web site.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) named U.S. economist and author Nancy Birdsall to an appointment as special adviser to UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown. She will work on a part-time basis and will support the Office that produces the yearly Human Development Report. She is currently Senior Associate and Director of Economic Programs for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Asked about restrictions on smoking in UN Headquarters, the Spokesman said that "no smoking" signs were posted in various areas, and that the United Nations was considering the establishment of a designated smoking area.


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