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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-29

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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

Monday, January 29, 2001

IN DAVOS, ANNAN HOLDS TALKS ON MIDDLE EAST

Secretary-General Kofi Annan met for nearly two hours with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat at about midnight Sunday night in the margins of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

After that meeting, the Secretary-General told reporters, "Now that we are moving forward, I would urge that we all dwell on the positive and build on it, rather than focus on some of the negative aspects."

Among his bilateral meetings on the subject of the Middle East over the weekend, he also met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa on Saturday and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on Sunday.

In his speech Sunday to the plenary session of the World Economic Forum, the Secretary General appealed to business leaders to join the Global Compact he launched two years ago in Davos, which was intended to help foster a more responsible role by the private sector. He warned, "If we cannot make globalization work for all, in the end, it will work for none." He also held a brief question-and-answer session following the speech.

The Secretary-General announced the appointment of Goran Lindahl of Sweden, who recently stepped down as the chief executive of ABB (Asea Brown Bovery), a Swiss-based industrial firm, as a special advisor on the Global Compact to lead the corporate recruitment effort.

In Davos, he also met with, in order, President Vicente Fox of Mexico, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Vojislav Kostunica of Yugoslavia. He also saw John Chambers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco Systems. On Saturday evening, he was a guest at an off-the-record dinner with media leaders, organized by the Forum.

ANNAN, ROBINSON URGE TOLERANCE AT STOCKHOLM FORUM

The Secretary-General left Davos Monday afternoon for a two-day visit to Stockholm, Sweden, where, on Monday evening, he delivered the keynote address at Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson's dinner for the Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance.

In his speech, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of teaching tolerance to the young and the need for the European Union not to lose sight of the duty enshrined in international treaties to protect refugees and asylum-seekers.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson also addressed the Stockholm Forum earlier today, and she similarly noted the need for leadership in Europe on the issue of refugees and asylum-seekers. In her speech, she said, "A multicultural Europe is inevitable. Europe has no alternative but to embrace tolerance and diversity."

She also warned that the Internet could be used to spread hate, saying, "A technical advance which has a great capacity to enlighten and entertain us becomes, in the hands of some, a weapon of racism." She urged high-tech companies and the media to become more involved in the fight against racism.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS OSCE CHAIR, DISCUSSES LEBANON MISSION

The Security Council held a private meeting this morning to hear a briefing by the Chaiman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Mircea Geoana. He discussed topics on the agenda of both the OSCE and the United Nations.

Following the private meeting, Council members went into consultations to take up the latest report of the Secretary-General on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on latest developments in Lebanon. The Council will take up the extension of that Mission's mandate in a formal session Tuesday.

Council members also discussed a letter they received over the weekend from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Goran Svilanovic, on the violence in Southern Serbia. The letter requested a meeting of the Security Council on that issue. The Council will discuss the matter further in consultations on Tuesday.

In response to questions on the security situation in southern Serbia, the Spokesman said that it was not an issue for the UN Mission in neighboring Kosovo, although the NATO troops of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) could help the situation by patrolling the border there. KFOR had made efforts to increase patrols along the border.

SPECIAL ADVISOR MEETS PARTIES SEPARATELY IN CYPRUS

Alvaro de Soto, the Secretary-Generals Special Advisor on Cyprus, wrapped his work on the island today by meeting separately with both Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash. This was the second meeting for both since de Soto arrived in Cyprus Thursday night.

In a press conference this afternoon, de Soto told journalists that he could not report any breakthrough on the talks he had just held, but he hoped it would be possible to find a way to continue his efforts.

"I am not discouraged," he said. "I have always taken the long view." De Soto compared his work to that of a long-distance runner who has to pace himself during a race.

Concerning his discussions, de Soto said, "No one disagrees with the general goal of a comprehensive settlement. I would like to believe, and this is the closest I will come to a note of optimism, that the reason we are in this difficult spot just now is precisely that we are on the way to facing a moment, or several moments, of truth."

De Soto will travel to Ankara early Tuesday morning to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

UN STEPS UP RELIEF EFFORTS FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE IN INDIA

Following last weeks earthquake in India, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that its five-member United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is on the ground in Ahmedabad and Bhuj, assisting the Governments Disaster Management Group.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has mobilized more than $700,000, to supply medical supplies, blankets and plastic sheeting and chlorine tablets. An initial shipment worth over $100,000 has already arrived in the disaster area, and an additional $600,000 worth of supplies is being coordinated for delivery later this week.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has released $200,000 in emergency funds and is providing 300 metric tons of high-protein biscuits from sources in India to feed 100,000 people for the next 15 days. Both agencies are working closely with state emergency authorities and other UN agencies in assessing the needs of those affected by the earthquake.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Croatia became the 33rd Member State to pay its regular budget contribution in full for the year 2001, with a payment today of more than $400,000. At this time last year, 37 Member States had paid their contributions in full.

The Secretary-General's report on Financing for Development will be launched at a press conference at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday by Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Nitin Desai.

Today is the first day on the job for Kenzo Oshima, the new Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. He will be the guest at Tuesday's noon briefing.

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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