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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-21

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 FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY THE DEPUTY SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, June 21, 2000

ANNAN MEETS ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER, FOREIGN MINISTER

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today traveled over land from Amman, Jordan, to Israel. He met with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy for about an hour, during which they discussed southern Lebanon. The Secretary-General said it was remarkable that Israel's withdrawal had happened so quickly and without incident, and he appreciated the close cooperation by Israel and other actors in the region with the United Nations, which made it possible.

The Secretary-General noted the concerns raised with him in Beirut, including Lebanon's allegations of Israeli encroachments into Lebanese territory, which were being investigated by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). It was important, he said, to avoid even the perception of violations, which could be destabilizing.

At mid-day, the Secretary-General met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. They talked about southern Lebanon, and also the Middle East peace process as a whole. The Prime Minister then hosted a luncheon for the Secretary-General.

Afterwards, the two held a press conference which Barak opened by saying that he believed that the Secretary-General's "commitment and devotion to the cause of making peace" had contributed to the future stability of the region. Annan responded that he felt that the Israel Defence Force's withdrawal from Lebanon was "an important building block on the long road to peace."

Other issues discussed included the representations made to the Secretary-General by the Lebanese Government about its nationals held by Israel.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast met, at their request, with the families of Israelis missing in action and received, on behalf of the Secretary-General, a letter from the inhabitants of Ghajar.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited Government House, the headquarters of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), the UN's first peacekeeping mission in the Middle East. He met privately with the UNTSO Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Franco Ganguzza, and then addressed the staff.

In the evening, he is expected to attend a dinner in his honor, hosted by Israeli President Ezer Weizman. He will proceed Thursday to visit Ramallah and Damascus.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ECOWAS DELEGATION ON SIERRA LEONE

Today, the Security Council is holding a private meeting in the Council Chambers to hear from the six-member delegation of the Economic Community of West African States' (ECOWAS) Mediation and Security Council Committee.

The delegation, headed by the Foreign Minister of Mali, Modibo Sidibe, and including the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Lansana Kouyate, has just completed a visit to Sierra Leone, where members met with President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. They also met in Monrovia with Liberian President Charles Taylor, and emphasized the need for freedom of movement by the UN Mission in Sierra Leone and the release of the 21 UN detainees held by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) at Pendembu.

There has been no change in the condition of the 21 Indian detainees at Pendembu, or in the standoff situation in Kailahun, where 233 personnel remain surrounded by RUF forces. The UN Mission has continued to deliver rations to the soldiers at Pendembu and Kailahun.

The situation in Sierra Leone is described as calm, but unpredictable. The number of peacekeepers deployed in the country is now at 12,394, following the arrival earlier this week of the remaining soldiers in the Bangladeshi contingent.

Just before the Council meeting on Sierra Leone, the Security Council adopted in a formal session a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina by one year, until June19, 2001. Fourteen Council members voted in favor, and one, Russia, abstained.

UN OBSERVERS MONITOR DEPARTURES FROM KISANGANI

According to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the situation in Kisangani, although tense, continues to be marked by the departure of Ugandan and Rwandan forces, respectively, to the north and the south of the city. UN observers have monitored their departure, although they have also noted the continued presence in Kisangani of forces from one Congolese armed faction

On Tuesday in Kinshasa, members of the Congolese security services entered the office of the Facilitator of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, ordered the people inside to leave and then sealed the office. The private security guards in the office have remained on duty there.

The UN Mission notes with concern the closure of the Office and is urgently seeking further information concerning the incident. It reiterates the need for full cooperation by the DRC Government with the work of the Neutral Facilitator.

KOSOVO SHOOTING CONDEMNED, WHILE YUGOSLAVIA PROSECUTOR VISITS

Today in Pristina, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner, and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, along with the members of the Kosovo Transitional Council, laid a wreath on the spot on Mother Teresa Street where two Serbs were shot and seriously injured on Tuesday evening.

The two were shot by unidentified suspects and are reported to be in stable condition. Kouchner condemned the attack and urged all sides to stop the violence.

Del Ponte, who is visiting several areas in the region, addressed the Transitional Council today and told them that her investigators would continue their forensic work in Kosovo to gather additional evidence on indictments, including that of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. She told reporters in Pristina that she has "no intention" to withdraw that indictment.

Today, Kouchner is leaving for Brussels, Belgium, where he will address the European Parliament Thursday on the management of European Union aid to Kosovo.

UN, WORLD BANK BEGIN EAST TIMOR DONORS MEETING IN PORTUGAL

The UN Transitional Administrator for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, this morning, where an East Timor Donors Meeting, jointly chaired by the World Bank and the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), is being held from today until Friday.

Representatives from East Timor, multilateral institutions, donors and non-governmental organizations will be discussing resource mobilization for East Timor's civil service and for UNTAET. They will also review plans put forward at last December's East Timor donors meeting held in Tokyo, Japan.

WHO EVALUATES HEALTH SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE IN NEW REPORT

The World Health Organization (WHO), in a report issued today, carried out its first analysis of the worlds health systems. In examining 191 member states, it finds that France provides the best overall health care followed by Italy, Spain, Oman, Austria and Japan.

The findings are published today in the "World Health Report 2000 Health Systems: Improving Performance."

WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said the main message from this report is that the health and well-being of people around the world depend critically on the performance of the health systems that serve them.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The International Court of Justice today declared that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the dispute brought before it by Pakistan against India in the case concerning the downing on August 10, 1999 of a Pakistani aircraft. The decision was taken by a vote of fourteen to two.

A record 4,383 mid-career professionals served with the United Nations Volunteers program (UNV) in 1999 on development projects and in the expanding areas of electoral support and humanitarian relief, according to the Volunteers' Annual Report for 1999, titled "Getting to the People," which was published in Geneva Tuesday. The UN Volunteers represented 149 nationalities and worked in 139 countries, on tasks ranging from ballot preparation in East Timor to reconstruction in Kosovo.

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  • The guest at today's briefing was Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), who discussed her recent trip to the Horn of Africa.

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