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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-27

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING
BY THE DEPUTY SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

(Press "Ctrl + R" or click on "reload" to ensure you have the latest summary)


ANNAN ADDRESSES DEMOCRACY CONFERENCE IN POLAND

  • Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday evening and today began his official visit to Poland, after first holding a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.

  • After that, he addressed a conference titled "Towards a Community of Democracies," held at the Parliament building, where he also met with Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek.

  • In addressing the conference, he welcomed the decision taken by the Organization of African Unity in Algiers last year not to receive as equals African leaders who come to power through unconstitutional means. "I look forward to the day when the General Assembly of the United Nations will follow Africa's lead, an apply similarly stringent standards to all its members," he said.

  • Talking to reporters afterward, the Secretary-General welcomed the results of Zimbabwe's elections, saying, "The people have spoken. We must respect their will, and I rejoice for them."

  • Also in the morning, the Secretary-General met with Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss Sierra Leone. Following that meeting, the Secretary-General met one-on-one with Albright.

  • He later visited the "World Forum on Democracies," a meeting of non-governmental organizations taking place in tandem with the Democracy Conference.

  • The Secretary-General visited the UN offices in Warsaw and inaugurated UN House, where several UN agencies currently work together, following one of his reform proposals.

  • After attending a luncheon hosted by Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and meeting privately with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General met in the afternoon with President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. The Secretary-General then laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

  • In the evening, he was scheduled to attend a state dinner in his honor hosted by the President.


UN REPRESENTATIVE PREDICTS EAST TIMOR ELECTIONS FOR LATE 2001

  • Today, the Security Council held an open debate on East Timor. The meeting began with a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Transitional Administrator for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

  • He said that, following discussions with Xanana Gusmao and other Timorese political leaders, he felt safe to predict that elections, and possibly independence, will take place next year at some point between August 30 and the beginning of December 2001.

  • De Mello said that the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the East Timorese increasingly realize that "the transition requires much more than UNTAET simply assisting in designing institutions and in recruiting and training administrators." He added, "The East Timorese should not only staff the administration and Government but also take political responsibility for it."

  • The UN Mission in East Timor has launched a web site on governance and public administration, which aims to inform the public about the process of nation-building and the reconstruction of East Timor and provide potential international investors and contractors with the latest information on business opportunities.


UN TROOPS STOP ROBBERY ATTEMPT IN SIERRA LEONE

  • On Monday in Freetown, Sierra Leone, a gang of four combatants from the Civil Defence Force (CDF) was prevented from robbing a civilian when four Nigerian troops from the UN Mission arrived and forced the combatants to flee. The four CDF members were later arrested and handed over to the civil police.

  • The UN Mission is also investigating reports that hundreds of CDF members have started to leave Freetown following orders by the Sierra Leone Government that they be redeployed to the south. So far, the UN Mission reports that there are still many CDF militias present at their main base in Freetown.

  • Elsewhere in the country, the security situation remains unpredictable, with some reports of fighting between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Government forces.

  • There is no change reported in the condition of the 21 Indian peacekeepers detained at Pendembu or the 222 Indian peacekeepers and 11 military observers surrounded by the RUF at Kailahun.

  • The World Food Programme started to distribute food to some 10,000 displaced persons at Mile 91 today.

  • The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji, is scheduled to arrive this afternoon in New York for several days of meetings with senior officials. He is expected to brief the Security Council on Friday, and to hold a press briefing afterward.


UNHCR REPORTS TRICKLE OF REFUGEES RETURNING TO ERITREA

  • According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a trickle of Eritreans has been returning home in recent days from refugee camps in Sudan, despite a very difficult humanitarian situation in western Eritrea. UNHCR staff, who monitor crossing points, report that those going back say they heard that the Ethiopians are gone and that it is now safe to return.

  • It is difficult to determine how many of the 94,000 Eritrean refugees registered in Sudan to date have gone back since the truce was announced more than a week ago, because many returnees use unofficial crossing points.


ANNAN CITES "DEPLORABLE" CONDITIONS IN AFGHANISTAN

  • In the latest report to the Security Council and General Assembly on Afghanistan, made available on Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General calls the situation of the Afghan people "deplorable."

  • He notes, "Four years after the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, visitors compare the city to a bombed-out city a few years after the end of the Second World War, except that no reconstruction is in sight and its people have little hope for improvement."

  • The Secretary-General warns that deep mutual mistrust remains between the warring parties in Afghanistan, and says that there are "strong indications" that a major offensive is being prepared for the near future.

  • The report adds that poverty is on the rise in Afghanistan, exacerbated by the country's most severe drought in 30 years. The report estimates that 90 percent of all crops have been lost to the drought in the majority of rain-fed areas, and reiterates the UN appeal for $1.8 million for immediate drought assistance.


SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES SIGNING OF GUATEMALA FISCAL PACT

  • The Secretary-General, in a statement, expressed "deep satisfaction" at the signing of the Fiscal Pact for a Future with Peace and Development in Guatemala. The pact, together with the Tax Pact, constitutes one of the most critical commitments in the implementation of the peace accords. He drew attention to the "unprecedented and extensive consultation" that led to the conclusion of the two pacts.

  • He also expressed optimism that Guatemala's Congress would endorse this "important first step in the consolidation of peace, social and economic development as enshrined in the 1996 Peace Agreement."


OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In response to a question on Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the UN Interim Force is continuing to work with the Israeli and Lebanese Governments to resolve outstanding issues.

  • The Office of the Iraq Programme reported today that, during period from June 17 to 23, Iraq exported 16 million barrels of oil for estimated revenue of $430 million. The revenue generated since Phase VIII of the "oil-for-food" program is estimated at about $801 million.

  • The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, is in Northern Ireland today, where he will attend a two-day conference on building a lasting dialogue among the children of that region. During his visit, he intends to visit several communities in Northern Ireland and meet with British and Northern Irish officials.

  • The Philippines has become the 95th Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full for the year 2000 by paying just over $850,000

  • The guest at the noon briefing on Wednesday will be Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, President of the Economic and Social Council, who will discuss the UN "Information Technology for the World" campaign.

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