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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-19

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





Monday, June 19, 2000


Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Beirut, Lebanon, from Cairo, Egypt, this morning. He held an hour-long meeting with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Salim El-Hoss to clarify a number of issues in recent days.

He pledged that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) would be vigilant on the matter of border violations, but drew the distinction between Israeli military withdrawal, which he had already confirmed to the Security Council, and subsequent violations, which he said could be addressed.

At a press encounter after that meeting, the Secretary-General said that he realized that both sides have problems with the "blue line" that the United Nations marked on the ground for the purpose of confirming Israeli withdrawal. He emphasized that marking a line of withdrawal was not the same as demarcating a border.

The United Nation's task now, Annan said, is to help restore peace and stability in Southern Lebanon. He voiced his confidence that the United Nations and Lebanon will continue to work in close cooperation toward that goal.

In the afternoon, he flew by UN helicopter to the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura. He was briefed by the Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Seth-Kofi Obeng, about the border situation. The Secretary-General also addressed the staff and laid a wreath in memory of UN members of the mission killed in the line of duty.

He then flew back to Beirut to meet with Nabih Berri, the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament. In the evening, he was scheduled to attend a dinner in his honor hosted by President Lahoud.

The Secretary-General will spend the night in Lebanon and leave for Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah II and other senior Jordanian officials.

The Secretary-General's trip began on Friday, and he visited Morocco, Iran and Egypt over the weekend. Among other officials, he met with King Mohamed VI of Morocco, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President Seyed Mohammed Khatami and Ayatollah Ali Hossein Khameini of Iran and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.


The Secretary-General has decided to appoint Jean-Marie Guehenno of France as Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, replacing Bernard Miyet, also of France, as of October 1.

Guehenno is currently President of the Council of Administration of the Institute of Advanced Studies of National Defense. He is also a member of the UN advisory council on disarmament issues.


UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell will visit Phnom Penh, beginning on July 5, at the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart, Senior Minister Sok An. The purpose of the visit is to discuss outstanding issues regarding the establishment of a court to try the most senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge. They will discuss mainly technical issues, since the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Hun Sen have solved the outstanding major issue of principle.

An agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Cambodia will, however, not be signed until after the Cambodian National Assembly has discussed the draft law presently before it.


The Secretary-General, speaking in Cairo Sunday, welcomed the signing by the Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia of an agreement on the cessation of hostilities that had been proposed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

The United Nations is now assessing what its role in the implementation of the agreement would be. On Friday, three UN Secretariat officials went to Algiers to begin planning for a future UN role, and it is possible that the United Nations will afterward send experts to Ethiopia and Eritrea to determine what a future UN presence might entail.

On the humanitarian side, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Sunday welcomed the signing of the agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, expressing hope that the deal will allow refugees and displaced persons to return home.

The latest bout of fighting between the two countries has caused large-scale displacement within Eritrea and has driven more than 80,000 people into neighboring Sudan, putting a huge strain on the impoverished and drought-stricken region.

In Sudan, UNHCR staff has now registered more than 85,000 refugees from Eritrea in the Kassala province that borders on Eritrea, and more people are believed to be hiding in the bush on the Eritrean side of the border. Some refugees have told UNHCR they will return home only after the Ethiopian forces have withdrawn.


In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the situation in Kisangani is reported by UN military observers as calm, but tense. Gen. Giulio Fraticelli, the Secretary-General's Military Adviser, visited Kisangani over the weekend and he is expected to be back at headquarters by Tuesday to report on his trip.

In recent days, there has been fighting reported in the north, with DRC Government aircraft bombing positions held by the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) near Libanda, Imese and Basankusu in Equateur Province. There have been unconfirmed reports that more than 70 civilians were killed as a result of the bombing, and the UN Mission is investigating those reports.


The situation in Sierra Leone has been relatively calm over the weekend, although there was firing in the capital, Freetown, on Saturday night for about half an hour, in which at least one civilian was killed.

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) reported that the firing took place between factions within the pro-Government forces, and could have resulted from confusion among those factions. Freetown is currently reported as calm.

There has been no change in the condition of the 21 Indian peacekeepers detained at Pendembu, or in that of the 223 Indians and 11 military observers surrounded at Kailahun.

The Liberian Government over the weekend reiterated that it would continue to negotiate for the release of the detainees held by the Revolutionary United Front at Pendembu.

Meanwhile, the United Nations continues to be concerned by the humanitarian situation at the town of Mile 91. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance estimates that there are nearly 30,000 internally displaced persons registered there and 17,000 more registered in the surrounding area, with another 10,000 persons waiting to be registered. The World Food Programme is helping to distribute food to those who have been displaced in that area.

In response to a question about the surrounded and detained personnel, the Spokesman noted that President Charles Taylor of Liberia is trying to negotiate their freedom of movement, and that a team from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) visiting Freetown has made that issue a priority.


This morning, the Security Council held consultations on Bosnia and Herzegovina, to consider a draft resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) for another 12 months, until June 21, 2001. The current mandate of the mission expires on Wednesday.

The Council also held informal consultations on Iraq, during which it was briefed by Yuli Vorontsov, the Secretary-Generals High-Level Coordinator on Iraq, who introduced the second report of the Secretary-General on the return of Kuwaiti property, issued last week. The Council issued a statement to the press on that topic following its consultations.

On Sunday, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement endorsing the work done by the United Nations regarding the verification of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, including the Secretary-General's conclusion that Israel had withdrawn from Lebanon, in accordance with Resolution 425 (1978) as of July 16.

The statement also noted reports of violations since June 16 and called upon the parties to respect the line identified by the United Nations.


Alvaro de Soto, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, arrived in the region last Thursday evening to discuss preparations for the next session of proximity talks, which start in Geneva on July 5. He spoke to both Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, first on Friday and then again on Saturday. On Sunday, he left for Ankara and Athens. He will also be travelling to Brussels.

The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Judge Claude Jorda, is in New York for a three-day visit. Today, he will address the Preparatory Commission for the establishment of an International Criminal Court. On Tuesday, he will brief the Security Council, following which he is expected as the guest at the noon briefing.

Today, the UN Institute for Training and Research started a week-long campus dedicated to international trade, focusing on events that unfolded in Seattle last November and the ensuing international developments. The campus is being held at UN Headquarters.

The World Health Organisation has carried out its first analysis of the world's health systems, which are being published in "The World Health Report 2000 -- Health Systems: Improving Performance," which will be released this Wednesday.

The UN International School (UNIS) class of 2000 will hold its graduation at the General Assembly Hall on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., with actress and model Isabella Rossellini to deliver the commencement address.


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