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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-15

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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

Thursday, June 15, 2000

LEBANON: VERIFICATION WORK SUSPENDED AFTER SHOOTING INCIDENT

The United Nations verification team in Lebanon was inspecting the Lebanese-Israeli border today to confirm Israels withdrawal from Lebanon, when shots were fired from the Israeli side.

The team, made up of members of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon accompanied by Lebanese army officials, was in the area of Rhajar village. Four shots passed over the heads of the verification team and one hit the ground just in front of the UNIFIL Deputy Force Commander. There were no injuries.

Israeli authorities, both military and civilian, have expressed their regret at the incident and said they would investigate it.

In the meantime, plans are being made to resume verification activities tomorrow morning, in the hope that the job can be completed Friday.

In response to questions, the Spokesman said the incident took place at an Israeli Defense Forces position, which must have had a barbed wire fence around it. "Our assumption was that that position was abandoned," he said. "When verifiers walked through that position, the shots were fired."

In response to questions about the Secretary-General's reported travels to the Middle East, the Spokesman said only that the trip is linked to final confirmation of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and he could not speculate on further details.

SECURITY COUNCIL STARTS TWO DAYS OF TALKS ON THE CONGO

This morning, Security Council closed-door consultations began in the presence of the Secretary-General with a briefing by the Kamel Morjane, the Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Morjane introduced the Secretary-Generals report issued this week and gave an update on the latest situation in Kisangani, Equateur Province in the northwest and the Kivus in the eastern part of the country, where fighting has been reported recently. He also gave an overview on the humanitarian situation, the status of the inter-Congolese dialogue and on UN deployment.

The Council also held the first in a series of meetings -- both open and closed over the next two days -- with the Political Committee of the Lusaka agreement. In the afternoon at 3 p.m. a second meeting between the Council members and the Political Committee will hold a closed &quot;private meeting.&quot; The Political Committee is made up of the Foreign Ministers of the signatories of the Lusaka agreement and the representatives of rebel groups.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Council began discussions on a draft resolution on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Consultations on that resolution are scheduled this afternoon at 5:30 p.m.

ANNAN WELCOMES JOINT DECLARATION BY KOREAN LEADERS

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, said he very much welcomes the Joint Declaration issued at the conclusion of the historic summit in Pyongyang between President Kim Dae-jung of the Republic of Korea and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong II of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

The Secretary-General congratulated the two leaders for the vision and statesmanship they have demonstrated. He is convinced that the continuation of the dialogue between the two sides will have a most beneficial impact on relations between them, and on the well-being of the Korean people, as well as on regional peace and security.

According to the statement, the Secretary-General is of the view that the international community, including the United Nations, should support the constructive developments on the Korean peninsula and contribute to building trust and confidence there.

UN PEACEKEEPERS REPEL RUF ATTACK IN SIERRA LEONE

At 10 a.m. local time in Sierra Leone today, UN peacekeepers from Nigeria came under attack by the Revolutionary United Front in Port Loko northeast of Freetown. There was an exchange of fire for about 45 minutes before the RUF retreated into the bush. No casualties were reported.

Meanwhile, UN mission Spokesman David Wimhurst said that the withdrawal of British forces from Sierra Leone, due to be completed today, will not adversely affect the security situation.

He noted that the UN mission had increased its forces during the last six weeks, both in numbers of troops and equipment deployed. The force is now more than 12,000-strong. More reinforcements -- both troops and equipment -- are on their way.

He told reporters not to be surprised by continued attacks, and that security situation remains under control, Wimhurst told reporters in Freetown.

There has been no change in the situation of the 21 Indian peacekeepers being held by the RUF in Pendembu.

NEW REPORT: IRAQ OWES SEIZED PROPERTY TO KUWAIT

A new report of the Secretary-General on the return of all Kuwaiti property noted that between 1991 and 1994 Iraq returned a substantial quantity of property, seized during the Gulf War, but that &quot;there remains items which Iraq is under obligation to return to Kuwait.&quot; It may never be possible to determine that all items have been returned, the report said.

It also noted that until Iraq provides a &quot;credible explanation&quot; with regard to the missing property, &quot;especially archives, military material and museums items,&quot; the closure of the property issue is delayed.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, James Baker III, will convene face-to-face discussions between the parties on that conflict from June 28 to 29 in London. In addition to Morocco and the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania will be present as observers, as was the case when the parties last met on May 14.

The International Labor Conference, which concluded in Geneva today, adopted a new international Convention on Maternity Protection. The new Convention applies to all women, including those in the informal sector, whereas the previous Convention - No. 103, adopted in 1952 covered a much narrower category of women workers. Among other things, under the new Convention, maternity leave will be extended from 12 to 14 weeks and a woman shall be provided with the right to one or more daily breaks to breast feed her child. Two ratifications by International Labor Organization member states are required for the Convention to enter into force.

Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Cyprus for another six months, until December 15, 2000.


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