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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-23
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
BAN KI-MOON EMBARKS ON FIRST MAJOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon leaves later today on a seven-nation trip to Europe and Africa.
He has meetings scheduled with European Union, European Parliament and European Commission officials in Brussels as well as senior representatives of NATO and the Belgian government, as well as the King.
Then in Paris he participates in the International Conference on Support for reconstruction and development of Lebanon, hosted by President Jacques Chirac.
During his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he will meet with President Kabila and other senior government officials, address the National Assembly, and meet with peacekeepers and staff of the UNs largest mission. A trip to Kisangani is scheduled, as is a brief visit across the river to Brazzaville to meet with Prseident Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo.
From DRC, he travels to Addis Ababa for the African Union Summit where he will address the opening session and hold a series of bilaterals meetings.
He ends his Africa visit with a stop in Nairobi, where he will meet with the Kenyan President and the staff of UN headquarters on the continent.
From Kenya, the Secretary-General travels to the Netherlands, where he will visit the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague. He will meet with the Queen as well as the Dutch Prime Minister and senior officials.
From The Hague, he flies to Washington, D.C. for a meeting of the Middle East Quartet.
Asked whether the Secretary-General agrees with the effort by Yugoslavia Tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte not to conclude the trials until the main suspects are found and tried, the Spokeswoman noted that the Tribunals current plans go through 2008, adding that further suspects could be tried by then.
Asked about arrangements for journalists traveling with the Secretary-General, the Spokeswoman said that the journalists would pay for their expenses, except that the United Nations would pay for their transportation by UN plane from Paris through Africa to Amsterdam.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES WIDENING STRIFE IN LEBANON
The Secretary-General is following closely current developments in Lebanon. He is greatly concerned that the political dispute in Lebanon has resulted in confrontation in the streets, reportedly leading to injuries and loss of life.
On the eve of his departure to the Paris III conference on Lebanon, the Secretary-General reiterates the support of the United Nations for the stability, sovereignty, security and independence of Lebanon. It is essential that all parties within Lebanon work through the democratic process and return to dialogue as a means of addressing their political differences.
Asked whether the United Nations supports the Lebanese Government, the Spokeswoman said that the Government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora is the democratically elected Government of the country.
She said that the United Nations supports the democratic process in Lebanon. She said it is important to remember that, in Lebanon, all have agreed, several times, that all Lebanese communities need to be represented and feel represented in Government.
The Secretary-General, Montas said, continues to call on all parties to return to the table of national dialogue and work towards national reconciliation.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would meet with the Lebanese opposition, the Spokeswoman noted that his Personal Representative, Geir Pedersen, had been meeting with all parties and was expected to travel to Paris to brief the Secretary-General on his contacts.
The Spokeswoman declined to speculate on whether there was any link between the demonstrations and the Paris conference, and she expressed the hope that Pedersen and Prime Minister Siniora would be able to attend that conference.
Asked whether issues like the mandate of UNIFIL or a potential tribunal would come up during the Paris conference, the Spokeswoman said that they could be discussed in bilateral meetings, but noted that the focus of the conference was on Lebanons reconstruction.
U.N. MONITORS TENSIONS IN LEBANON
The office of Geir Pedersen, the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative for Lebanon, reports that the Beirut airport has been cut off during the recent demonstrations and for the moment is effectively closed. Many roads -- within and around Beirut and in other parts of Lebanon -- have been cut off by blockades, including those involving burning tires and old cars.
The office also is monitoring reports of clashes between different factions, mostly north of Beirut.
In response to recent questions about the Israeli overflights of Lebanon, the Spokeswoman noted that, in accordance with its standard procedures, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon protests each overflight to the Israeli authorities as a violation of the Blue Line. There were seven such flights recorded on Monday.
WAR-RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE A SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO LEBANON
Serious environmental challenges are
confronting Lebanon as a result of the recent conflict there, according to a report launched today by the UN Environment Programme.
For example, many bombed and burnt-out factories and industrial complexes are contaminated with a variety of toxic substances, such as ash and leaked chemicals. Urgent action is needed to remove and safely dispose of such substances amid concerns that they are threatening water supplies and public health.
The report also cites the sheer scale of war-related debris, including hospital waste, as a major problem, since existing municipal dump sites are becoming overwhelmed. And it stresses the importance of rapidly removing unexploded cluster bombs.
BAN KI-MOON TO MEET WITH SUDANESE LEADER AT A.U. SUMMIT
Asked whether the Secretary-General would meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the Spokeswoman said they were expected to meet in Addis Ababa. The Secretary-General had spoken to President Bashir by phone.
Asked whether the Secretary-General expects progress on Darfur, Montas said that he expects to move the Darfur issue forward while at the African Union summit.
Asked about UN peacekeeping priorities regarding Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that the UN-African Union plan for Darfur is still on the table, and it was important to see how quickly its phases could be implemented. The Secretary-General, she added, plans to have a wide range of contacts and bilateral meetings to move ahead on Darfur.
Asked whether the Secretary-General has any comment on whether Sudan should chair the African Union, the Spokeswoman said that decision is up to African Union members.
SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES PEACE-BUILDING MISSION FOR NEPAL
The Security Council began its work today by holding consultations on peace-building, with a briefing by the head of the UN Peace-Building Support Office, Carolyn McAskie. The Council intends to hold a public meeting to discuss peace-building issues further on 31 January.
Later, the Security Council held a formal meeting and unanimously adopted a resolution concerning the establishment, for 12 months, of a UN political mission in Nepal.
The members of the Security Council also held their first monthly luncheon with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today.
U.N CHIEF IN IRAQ OUTRAGED BY LATEST BOMBINGS
Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, condemned in the strongest terms the two bombings at the Bab al-Shargi district in Baghdad on Monday. He said that the bombings, which caused the death and injury of more than two hundred innocent civilians, were shocking.
These deplorable outrages again underscore the urgent need for all Iraqis to reject violence and together choose the path of peace and reconciliation, Qazi said.
KOSOVO STATUS PROPOSAL TO GO TO CONTACT GROUP ON FRIDAY
The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaaris status proposal will be presented to the general public very soon.
As a first step, Ahtisaari will share his proposal this Friday with the Kosovo Contact Group in Vienna. The Contact Group includes representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.
Asked whether the Secretary-General still intends to meet Ahtisaari, the Spokeswoman said that he intends to meet with Ahtisaari while both are in Paris this week.
Asked further about Ahtisaaris plans, the Spokeswoman said that, at this point, Ahtisaari plans to travel on 2 February to Belgrade and Pristina to officially present his proposal to both parties. He will then wait for feedback from the parties before sending the proposal on to the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General will then transmit it to the Security Council, and it will be up to the Security Council to decide when it wants to consider Kosovo, Montas added.
U.N COURT DISMISSES REQUEST IN URUGUAY-ARGENTINA DISPUTE
The International Court of Justice today gave its
decision on the request for provisional measures submitted by Uruguay against Argentina in the case concerning the Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay.
In their ruling, a majority of ICJ judges found that the circumstances, as they now present themselves to the Court, do not require the exercise of its power.
Uruguay had filed its petition in November 2006 charging that Argentine citizens had blockaded a vital international bridge over the Uruguay River. The dispute between the two countries was first sent to the ICJ by Argentina in May 2006.
IAEA IN TALKS WITH IRAN OVER INSPECTORS ACCESS
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that it is discussing with Iran its request for withdrawing the designation of certain safeguards inspectors.
It should be noted that there are a sufficient number of inspectors designated for Iran and the IAEA is able to perform its inspection activities in accordance with Iran's Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.
UNHCR CONCERNED AT ABDUCTION OF PALESTINIANS IN IRAQ
The UN refugee agency, or UNHCR, reports that, early this morning, 17 Palestinian men living in Baghdad were taken away by men dressed in Iraqi security force uniforms and driving security vehicles. UNHCR is very concerned and is seeking further information.
Meanwhile, in western Algeria today, UNHCR and the World Food Programme started a 12-day mission to Sahrawi refugee camps to assess the dire food and nutrition situation there, in view of a recent disruption in the food pipeline.
PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE TO RELEASE FIRST MAJOR ASSESSMENT
The first of four installments of a major scientific assessment on climate change will be released next Friday, 2 February, in Paris, by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The first part of the report, which is based on the contributions of more than 2,500 scientists from 130 countries, will look at the current science behind climate change, provide data on observed changes, and offer predictions for the future.
The report is the fourth such assessment by the Panel and its first in six years.
UNITED NATIONS ALARMED AT REEMERGENCE OF BIRD FLU VIRUS
The Food and Agriculture Organization today expressed concern about new flare-ups of bird flu in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam.
But it stressed that the number of outbreaks in the first weeks of 2007 had been significantly lower than the epidemic waves of last year.
SECRETARY-GENERAL FAVOURS RESUMPTION OF DOHA TRADE TALKS: Asked about the possible resumption of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General favoured a resumption of that round.
U.N RADIO HAS INTERVIEWED BAN KI-MOON: In response to a question, the Spokeswoman confirmed that, when she was a reporter for UN Radio, the radio service had once interviewed Ban Ki-moon, prior to his selection as Secretary-General.
NO SENIOR APPOINTMENTS EXPECTED BEFORE DEPARTMENTAL RESTRUCTURING: Asked about senior appointments of UN officials, the Spokeswoman said it was not expected that there would be any announcements of major appointments until after the Secretary-Generals restructuring plans are approved by the General Assembly.
FORMER RWANDA TRIBUNAL INMATE IS DEAD: Adama Dieng, the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, has announced the death on Monday at age 83 of Elizaphan Ntakirutimana at a hospital in Arusha, Tanzania. The deceased was released on December 6 from the Tribunals detention center after completing a 10-year sentence for aiding and abetting the 1994 genocide.
SIERRA LEONE COURT TO HOLD CONFERENCE ON CHARLES TAYLOR: The Special Court for Sierra Leone has scheduled a status conference in its case against former Liberian president Charles Taylor for January 26th on the premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS CHIEF HOSTS DIPLOMATS AT OPENIGN OF WORK SESSION: ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, hosted today the Geneva diplomatic community and other dignitaries on the occasion of the inaugural session of the new ITU leadership. Dr Touré, who was elected Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union last November by the Plenipotentiary Conference, took office along with four other elected officials on 1 January 2007.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
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