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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-23

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 FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

IN TOKYO, ANNAN MEETS EMPEROR, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN

Secretary-General Kofi Annan began his program in Japan today with a meeting with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

He then had a series of meetings with Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono.

In these meetings, the Secretary-General praised Japan's contribution to international peace and security through development assistance, conflict prevention and humanitarian aid. The discussions also focused on UN reform, and in particular Security Council reform, follow-up to the Millennium Summit and African issues.

The Secretary-General explored ways to strengthen Japan's contribution to meeting Africa's needs with Mori, who recently completed the first visit to Africa by a Japanese Prime Minister.

During lunch, the Prime Minister read aloud a letter from a Sudanese girl given to him during his African trip. "I dream that one day girls will go to school together with boys and not have to leave school earlier because they are to get married," he read. "Tell me, men and women, do I have a chance?"

The talks with Foreign Minister Kono focused on peace and security issues, including the Middle East, the Gulf and the Korean Peninsula.

With the Finance Minister, the Secretary-General reviewed global and national economic trends.

The Secretary-General also met with members of Parliament. One of them, Akihiko Kumashiro, said that he had clicked on the UN Home Page for the first time today, where he read of the Secretary-General's recent travels. "I've now added the UN Home Page under "Favorites," he commented

ANNAN RECOMMENDS REDUCTION IN UN FORCE IN LEBANON

In a document issued today, the Secretary-General reports on the activities of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for the past six months and recommends that its mandate be extended a further six months, until July 31, 2001.

Despite a small number of serious incidents, the Secretary-General says, the situation in southern Lebanon has remained calm. The majority of violations of the Blue Line were quickly corrected after the UN Mission raised the matters with the parties.

However, according to the Secretary-General, the "reckless behavior of Lebanese demonstrators on the Blue Line continued, drawing at times an overly harsh response from the Israeli soldiers on the other side and leading to casualties that could have been avoided."

The Secretary-General also underscores that the most serious area of concern remains the attacks across the Blue Line at the Shaba Farms. The attacks are in direct breach of the decisions of the Security Council, the report notes.

In his recommendations to the Council, the Secretary-General suggests that UNIFILs troop strength be lowered from the roughly 5,800 personnel currently deployed to approximately 4,500, the level it had before last years increase.

In the context of the continuing tensions in the region, this would leave the mission with sufficient strength to carry out patrols and observations along the Blue Line, he says.

COUNCIL NOTES TENSIONS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

This morning, in an open meeting, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in the Central African Republic, Cheik Tidiane Sy, presented to the Security Council the Secretary-Generals latest report on that country.

In his presentation, Sy told the Council members of the troubling situation in the Central African Republic, including growing political tensions and the deteriorating economic situation, as well as the negative effect of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sy told the Council that all previous investments made for peace and stability in the country would be useless if urgent assistance were not given to the Government.

At the conclusion of the discussion the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on the situation in the Central African Republic.

At 4 p.m. today, the Council is scheduled to meet in closed consultations to hear a briefing by Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on the latest development in the Burundi peace process.

Immediately following those consultations the council is to hold a formal meeting to vote on a six-month extension of the Monitoring Mechanism for sanctions against UNITA.

TRIBUNAL PROSECUTOR MEETS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT

The Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla del Ponte, is in Belgrade today, where she met with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.

Del Ponte is expected to talk to Yugoslav officials during her three-day trip about the need to hand over suspects indicted by the Tribunal.

On Monday at The Hague, Judge David Hunt of the Tribunal re-issued arrest warrants for several key Yugoslav suspects, including former President Slobodan Milosevic and four others who were indicted on May 24, 1999, in connection with war crimes committed in Kosovo.

In his re-issuance of the warrants, Judge Hunt directed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to determine whether the five accused have assets located in its territory, and, if so, to adopt provisional measures to freeze such assets. He also noted that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is obliged to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.

FEBRUARY PRICING MECHANISM FOR IRAQI CRUDE IS APPROVED

The Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), in its weekly update, announced that a pricing mechanism is now in place for the purchase of Iraqi crude oil during the month of February under the "oil-for-food" program.

The prices, proposed by the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), have been approved by the Security Councils 661 Sanctions Committee for Iraq, on the recommendation of UN oil overseers.

During the week of January 13-19, Iraq exported 5.7 million barrels of crude oil through three loadings at Mina al-Bakr terminal, earning an estimated 132 million euros in revenue. There were no activities at Ceyhan terminal in this period, but loadings did resume on Sunday, January 21, after a three-week pause.

In Phase IX of the "oil-for-food" program, which began on December 6, 2000, Iraq has exported 28.1 million barrels of oil for an estimated 558 million euros in revenue.

The total value of contracts placed on hold by the 661 Committee as of January 19 was $3.15 billion, consisting of $2.7 billion for humanitarian supplies and $435 million for oil industry spare parts and equipment.

In response to a question on the dispatching of a UN team to Baghdad to examine the mechanics of the cash component for the Iraqi oil industry as requested in Resolution 1330, the Spokesman confirmed that the Office of the Iraq Programme had written to the Iraqi authorities. The Office informed Iraq that a seven-member team was ready to travel to Baghdad, but no official response has yet been received from the Iraqi side.

ANNAN URGES DISARMAMENT DELEGATES TO FIND POLITICAL WILL

Today in Geneva, the Conference on Disarmament began its annual session, and the Secretary-General, in a message delivered by the Director-General of the United Nations in Geneva, Vladimir Petrovsky, urged delegates to take firm action and create a political climate conducive for progress.

He noted that, although the Conference last year did not reach consensus on a comprehensive program of work, it did make progress on dealing with nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Secretary-General urged delegates to follow up on those issues and to "overcome the disturbing lack of political will" that has hindered its work.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to a question on Afghanistan, the Spokesman said that, following the imposition of new UN Security Council sanctions against it, the Taliban is not currently participating in the peace process, but the Secretary-General's Personal Representative, Francesc Vendrell, is working to bring them back into that process.

In response to a question on a summit meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesman later added that a meeting of the signatories of the Lusaka Agreement, at the level of Foreign Ministers, with the Security Council is scheduled to go ahead on February 21-22.

Asked about the possible impact of the decision taken Monday by US President George W. Bush to halt funding of international organizations that discuss or promote abortion, the Spokesman said the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) believes that the policy would not affect it because, as policy, it does not endorse, fund or counsel abortion as a means of family planning.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and Action Contre la Faim conducted a nutritional survey of Mazar-e-Sharief in northern Afghanistan, which found that almost half the children surveyed suffer from chronic malnutrition and that 20 percent of those surveyed suffered from severe malnutrition. WFP estimates that 172,000 tons of food worth about $80 million will be needed for operations in the Mazar area for another year, starting in April.

The UN Environmental Programme will organize a retreat for international youth leaders in Mombassa Kenya, from January 29 to February 4.

Today India signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, while the Seychelles signed the two Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Cartegena Protocol.

Namibia today became the 26th Member State to its their regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $72,000. In response to a question comparing this years budget statistics with last years, the Spokesman said that, as of the end of January 2000, 43 Member States had paid their regular budget dues in full.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that the first meeting of the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Leprosy would take place in New Delhi on January 30 and 31. The meeting is expected to adopt a Declaration urging signatories to implement the Final Push strategy designed by the WHO and supported by all the Alliance partners.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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