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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-07-17

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

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY HUA JIANG

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN

FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

ANNAN, AFTER QUARTET MEETING, TO BRIEF COUNCIL ON MIDDLE EAST

Starting at 3:00 this afternoon, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to brief the Security Council on the Middle East.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General attended the senior-level Quartet meeting on the Middle East. The other participants at that meeting were U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller (representing the European Union rotating Presidency), High Representative for European Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten.

Afterward, the Secretary-General read out a communiqué on the Quartet's behalf, expressing strong support for the goal of a final Israeli-Palestinian settlement and agreeing with U.S. President George W. Bush that, with an intensive effort, this can be achieved within three years.

The Quartet, he said, welcomed the Palestinian interest in reform, including the building of efficient Palestinian security capabilities to combat terror, and called on Israel to support the emergence of a viable Palestinian state, including easing internal closures, withdrawing forces and stopping all settlement activity.

The Secretary-General also told reporters that he had been informed earlier on Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Sharon wanted to see a humanitarian operation to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people. The Secretary-General said the Quartet agrees that full humanitarian access would be the fastest way to improve their plight and added that the United Nations, with the full support of the Quartet, agreed to lead that effort.

Annan told reporters, "We all share the end objective of two states, living in peace, side by side. What we have to do is work out how we get there." The Secretary-General said that work should be done to improve the security situation, but must be accompanied by progress on the political and economic tracks, as well. He added that the United Nations would continue to deal with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, "until the Palestinians decide otherwise."

Then, in the evening, the Secretary-General hosted a meeting of the Quartet at his residence, along with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher and the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia.

After that meeting, the Secretary-General told the press, We have had a very good discussion with our three friends and colleagues from the Middle East, where we have gone over what needs to be done for us to achieve the goals that we all seek.

He added, I hope that, given what has happened in the past two years, the military option - the option of force - has been so totally discredited that now that we are moving ahead firmly with the peace option, the dynamics in the region will shift and the leaders will work with us in this direction.

ANNAN VOICES CONCERN OVER MOROCCO-SPAIN DISPUTE

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, said he has been following with concern recent developments between Morocco and Spain. He has been in contact with leaders on both sides. He regrets any unilateral action taken so far and hopes that both parties will adhere to their original undertaking to resolve the issue through peaceful means.

The Secretary-General stands ready to offer his good offices should the two sides so desire.

TOP UN HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL REPORTS ON ANGOLAS DIRE SITUATION

The Security Council met this morning on Angola. In an open meeting, Council members heard a briefing by Under Secretary-General Kenzo Oshima on what he described as a dire humanitarian situation in many parts of the country.

He said that the enormous needs of large parts of the population food, water, shelter, health and others require an urgent an massive response. Despite the overall positive developments, the people most affected by the war have yet to see a significant peace dividend.

Altogether, the United Nations and its partners are now targeting about 3 million people, nearly one quarter of Angolas population. Oshima said funding for the humanitarian relief operation in Angola one of the largest in the world is urgently required. To date, only $81 million of the requested $233 million has been granted, or 35 percent of the funds requested.

On the challenges ahead, Oshima referred to the need for planning for the return and resettlement of up to 4 million displaced persons, the urgency of conducting de-mining activities and providing emergency assistance to ex-UNITA combatants and their family members in the so-called quartering areas.

He also listed some steps for the Angolan Government to take on its own to facilitate humanitarian activities.

Following the Angola meeting, at 11:15, the Security Council went into a scheduled meeting of troop contributors for the UN mission in Lebanon.

ANNAN WARNS OF TENSIONS AT "BLUE LINE" IN LEBANON REPORT

The Secretary-General, in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, says that tensions increased in that Missions area operation over the past six months, with an outbreak of violent incidents across the Blue Line during the first two weeks of April. These events, the Secretary-General says, have underscored the fragility of the situation and demonstrated how readily tensions can escalate.

He says that Hezbollahs commitment to launching hostile attacks across the Blue Line, and the Lebanese Governments unwillingness to fulfill its commitment to ensure full respect for the Blue Line, contravene Security Council decisions. He writes, Violations of the Blue Line, whether they entail a physical crossing of the line or skirting it, cannot be justified.

The report also notes that unjustified Israeli incursions into sovereign Lebanese airspace continued on an almost daily basis throughout most of the reporting period, often penetrating deep into Lebanon.

The Secretary-General also remains concerned about the restriction of movement on UNIFIL personnel, who must be able to carry out their mandate. He calls on the Council to extend the Missions mandate by six months, until the end of January 2003, and he also appeals to Member States to pay their assessments to the Mission, whose unpaid assessments amount to $106.5 million.

The Security Council expects to discuss the report in consultations next Monday.

UN MEDIA SEMINAR ON MIDDLE EAST BEGINS IN COPENHAGEN

Today in Copenhagen, a two-day international media seminar on building peace in the Middle East, organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI) in cooperation with the Danish Foreign Ministry, got underway.

Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor, head of DPI and moderator of the seminar, welcomed the participants, who include those active in the peace process from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and read a message on behalf of the Secretary-General calling the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict one of the most enduring challenges of our times.

The Secretary-General, in that message, called on the Palestinian Authority to take immediate and specific action to prevent terrorist attacks against Israel, and on the Israeli Government to stop all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

He also emphasized the need to strive for a clear understanding of one anothers positions, a goal shared by the media seminar. On Thursday, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Roed Larsen, will address the seminar.

ANNAN CALLS FOR LIMITED EXPANSION OF FORCE BEYOND KABUL

The Secretary-Generals report to the Security Council on Afghanistan, which is out as a document, describes the continued implementation of the Bonn Agreement, including the successful conclusion of the Emergency Loya Jirga. The report also outlines the continuing challenges faced by both the Transitional Authority and the international community.

In the report, the Secretary-General also expresses his concern over the issue of security and he strongly advocates a limited expansion of International Security Assistance Force beyond Kabul.

ANNAN NOTES IMPASSE BEFORE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT

This morning, South Africas foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, is chairing a meeting of countries invited by South African President Thabo Mbeki to serve as Friends of the Chair for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is to begin in Johannesburg next month.

Todays meeting is intended to consider approaches to resolve outstanding issues in the Summits Draft Plan of Implementation.

The Secretary-General talked to the Group of Friends at todays meeting, saying that negotiations on several critical issues have reached an impasse, requiring further dialogue before the Johannesburg summit begins.

He suggested a few points to guide the Friends efforts. First, he said, the Summit should seek to implement the existing global consensus on sustainable development, and avoid revising that consensus.

Efforts to build on recent achievements in finance, trade and good governance should be grounded in existing agreement, while the Summit should not be sidetracked by discussions that are already being considered by other relevant forums.

Also, he said, there should be a greater focus on the five key areas of water and sanitation, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity (WEHAB).

He told the Friends, Progress since the Earth Summit has been slower than expected and more important slower than what was needed. A setback now would be a tragic missed opportunity.

NEW HUMANITARIAN APPEAL FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA TO BE LAUNCHED

On Thursday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will launch the Consolidated Appeals for the Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa.

The Appeal will be launched by Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and speakers will include Julia Taft, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund and Jean-Jacques Graisse, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme. Kenzo Oshima will brief the press Thursday on the Appeals.

At 3:00 this afternoon, Oshima will open a panel discussion on Challenges for Humanitarian Assistance in the Last Decade and into the Future to mark the 10th anniversary of the General Assembly resolution that strengthened the coordination of humanitarian assistance in the United Nations system. The keynote speaker will be the Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations, Jan Eliasson.

SWITZERLAND TO TAKE ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS UN MEMBERSHIP

This afternoon, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with Swiss Ambassador Jeno Staehelin, who is expected to present him with a letter from the Swiss President requesting that Switzerland join the United Nations.

The Secretary-General is delighted that the people of Switzerland decided in their referendum last March that they want to join the United Nations, and he looks forward to Switzerlands constructive participation in the work of the Organization.

ANNAN HAILS FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF CRIMINAL COURT STATUTE

The Secretary-General marked the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court today, in a message saying that the Statutes entry into force marks a triumph for the rule of law in international relations.

The Secretary-General says in his message, An exciting but challenging journey now lies ahead of us. The International Criminal Court will be operational earlier than many dared to expect. It is crucial, he adds, that the world continue on its journey until the Statute attains full universality.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Tuesday concluded a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in preparation for an environmental study of the Palestinian Territories. The study will list priorities and propose recommendations to solve environmental problems; it will be finalized by November of this year and will be presented to UNEP's Governing Council in February 2003.

A joint project has been set up by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and the non-governmental organization Cosmos Education, called Under African Skies 2002. The project is designed to expose children in Southern Africa to science and technology.

Today, Kiribati became the 86th Member State to pay its 2002 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $11,000.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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