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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-22

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

Thursday, June 22, 2000

SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS RAMALLAH, DAMASCUS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan left Israel today after a meeting this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to discuss the outstanding issues between Israel and Lebanon regarding the withdrawal line. Both he and the Prime Minister said Wednesday that Israel hoped to resolve those issues within the next day or two.

They agreed that senior Israeli officials, accompanied by UN peacekeepers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), would travel to the withdrawal line to inspect the remaining areas of contention. UNIFIL had done the same on Wednesday with Lebanese experts. They also agreed to a streamlined procedure for reporting violations and investigating them.

The United Nations, the Secretary-General insisted, would make the final determination. The Secretary-General hoped that all outstanding issues would be able to be resolved before he leaves the Middle East by mid-day Friday.

Following his meeting, the Secretary-General traveled to Ramallah in the Palestine Authority to meet with Yasser Arafat, the President of the Palestine National Authority, who presented the Secretary-General with a medal, the Bethlehem 2000 Award, normally given to visiting heads of state. The Secretary-General briefed Arafat on the latest developments in southern Lebanon, and the two discussed the Middle East peace process.

At a press encounter following the meeting, Arafat said that the Palestinians just wanted full implementation of existing agreements and told the Secretary-General, "We need you, we need your good offices, we need your efforts to move the peace process forward."

The Secretary-General responded that the United Nations would continue to support US mediation efforts in any way that it could.

Annan then returned by vehicle to Amman, Jordan, from where he flew to Damascus, Syria, arriving in mid-afternoon. He met with Bashar al-Assad, the Secretary-General of the Baath Party, and with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. In the evening, he is scheduled to attend a working dinner hosted by the foreign minister.

In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General would be in Basel, Germany, by Friday evening.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CLOSURE OF OFFICE IN DR OF CONGO

The Security Council this morning began its work with a briefing in closed consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet on recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall also participated in the discussion.

Miyet noted the closure on Tuesday by the DRC authorities of the Kinshasa office of the neutral facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana.

President Laurent Kabila is reported as having ordered the closure, which represents a violation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. The United Nations has called on the DRC Government to resume full cooperation with the neutral facilitator, as called for in Security Council Resolution 1304 (2000).

UN military observers have been monitoring the withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan forces from Kisangani, both of which have been seen moving to respective positions south and north of the city. However, it is difficult to confirm for now the complete withdrawal of troops given the terrain, which consists largely of dense jungle.

One Congolese armed faction has continued to remain in Kisangani; however, although the situation in Kisangani remains tense, it is described as improving.

Also, the UN Mission (MONUC) has reported restrictions on its observer team's movements in Mbandaka.

The Security Council received a draft resolution on Sudan, and intended to hold further discussions to consider a letter from Sudan regarding the sanctions imposed on that country in 1996.

SECURITY COUNCIL, ECOWAS CONDEMN SIERRA LEONE DETENTIONS

On Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council concluded a private meeting with the six-member ministerial delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a communiqu&eacute; condemning the continued detention of UN personnel from the Indian contingent by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

The two bodies jointly agreed to call for the unconditional release and freedom of movement of all detained or surrounded UN personnel. They also declared that the terms of the Lom&eacute; Agreement have been flouted by the violation of the ceasefire, the taking of hostages and attacks on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and urged that those responsible be brought to justice.

During the day-long private meeting, the ECOWAS delegation, led by Foreign Minister Modibo Sidibe of Mali, was told that the Security Council would soon be considering three draft resolutions on Sierra Leone, dealing with the mandate of the UN Mission, an embargo on diamonds, and the trial of Foday Sankoh.

The overall security situation in Sierra Leone remains quiet but unpredictable. There has been no change in the condition of the 21 Indian soldiers detained at Pendembu or of the 222 Indian personnel and 11 military observers surrounded by the RUF at Kailahun.

In a press conference today in Freetown, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Oluyemi Adeniji, said in response to a question on the possible trial of RUF leader Foday Sankoh that an official from the UN Legal Office was in Sierra Leone to assess the situation.

UN MISSION INVESTIGATES RIOT IN MITROVICA

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is conducting further investigation of a riot on Wednesday in which a crowd of Serbs in northern Mitrovica stoned and set fire to UN police vehicles and scuffled with police. The riot followed an effort by a UN patrol to arrest a group of Serbs who had been throwing stones at police cars in northern Mitrovica.

In the incident that followed, UN police and members of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) fired warning shots after a crowd of some 300 to 400 Serbs turned violent and torched a UN police car. The UN police reported that shots were also fired by unidentified persons.

The crowd then began to throw stones and set fire to other vehicles, and also moved on to the Albanian enclave in northern Mitrovica. Ultimately, a total of two police vehicles were completely burned, and three other vehicles were destroyed. Ten other police cars were damaged. Nine UN police officers received minor injuries.

Calm was restored by Wednesday evening, the Mission reported.

UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OPENS LISBON MEETING ON EAST TIMOR

In Portugal today, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for East Timor, opened a two-day donor's meeting in Lisbon.

In his speech, de Mello said that "one of the most significant lessons we have learned is that a standard UN peacekeeping and peace-building mission, even with a substantive transitional administration component, is not an ideal structure to undertake the broad and expansive role of Government in East Timor."

He noted that the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has been paying subsidies to more than 5,000 East Timorese on temporary contract who perform civil service functions, and that a civil service training academy is now operating. Employment generation activities for more than 30,000 people have been implemented in all districts, he added.

De Mello pointed out that it is the first time that the United Nations has attempted such an ambitious international nation-building effort, and stressed that the international community has "the unique opportunity and the responsibility to get the development of a country right from the beginning."

FAO AND UNAIDS NOTE RISE IN RURAL HIV INFECTIONS

The fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in developing countries has been mostly perceived as an &quot;urban problem&quot;, but the absolute numbers of people living with HIV are actually increasing rapidly in many rural areas, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said today.

In a new publication entitled &quot;Sustainable Agricultural/Rural Development and Vulnerability to the AIDS Epidemic&quot;, FAO and UNAIDS called on Governments to pay more attention to the real burden of AIDS on local communities and to ensure that rural development will help to combat the epidemic.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked when Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet would be replaced by his successor, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the Spokesman said it would be effective on October 1.

The Secretary-General issued a message on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which will also be observed on Monday, June 26. Torture, the Secretary-General said, &quot;is not only one of the vilest acts that one human being can inflict on another; it is also among the most insidious of all human rights violations.&quot;

On Friday, following his briefing to the Security Council, Carl Bildt, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Balkans, will talk to the press.

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  • The guest at today's briefing was Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), who discussed the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is Monday, June 26.

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