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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-29

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, January 29, 2007

BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR NEW CHAPTER IN DARFUR

The Secretary-General today addressed the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, urging the leaders gathered there to open a new and different chapter in the story of broken hope in Darfur.

He said that the partnership between the African Union and the UN is of central importance to dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, asserting that the two organizations must work together to end the violence and scorched-earth policies adopted by various parties, including militias, as well as the bombings taking place there. He emphasized the need to build consensus for the urgent deployment of a UN-AU force on the ground.

The Secretary-General also stressed the need to move forward in implementing the Millennium Development Goals, and said that in the coming months, he will convene a working group on Africa and the Goals, which will aim to meet by March, to formulate an action plan.

He added that the time has come for the rest of the world to assist African countries in adapting to the effects of a warming planet, while strengthening efforts to mitigate climate change. Nations must implement the adaptation plan of action adopted at last years United Nations climate change conference in Nairobi, the Secretary-General said.

While in Addis, the Secretary-General is holding meetings with a number of visiting leaders, including the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, as well as the leaders of Ethiopia, Cote dIvoire, Chad and Somalia. He is also scheduled to meet the leaders of Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa and the Central African Republic.

SECRETARY-GENERAL & SUDANESE PRESIDENT DISCUSS EFFORTS TOWARDS U.N./AFRICAN UNION DEPLOYMENT IN DARFUR

In a statement, the Secretary-General describes his meeting today with President Bashir, saying that they agreed to accelerate joint African Union-United Nations efforts for the political process and the preparation for a peacekeeping mission, based on the Abuja and Addis Ababa agreements.

The Secretary-General stressed the urgency of a re-energized political process in Darfur and informed President Bashir that he had agreed with Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare on a joint mission of his Special Envoy, Jan Eliasson, and AU Envoy Salim A. Salim to Khartoum and Darfur in early February to support peace-making efforts.

He also recalled his letter of 24 January, presenting the heavy support package for peacekeeping agreed with the African Union. The Secretary-General looks forward to a prompt and positive answer to this joint proposal. This will pave the way for the early deployment of a hybrid mission.

Asked about the substance of the discussions between the Secretary-General and President Bashir, the Spokeswoman said that they discussed specifics, including the second phase of the UN assistance package. What is new, she said, is the effort to push the process forward, with Eliasson and Salim traveling to Sudan to accelerate the process.

Montas later noted that the Secretary-Generals letter to Sudan referred to details on the heavy support package, which would include more than 2200 uniformed personnel, several hundred police and 75 civilian personnel.

BANDITRY CONTINUES IN DARFUR

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that banditry continues to prevail in many parts of Darfur. In one incident last week in North Darfur, the Mission reports, an African Union contractor vehicle was stolen in El Fasher by two armed men who fled southwards.

In another incident on Saturday, seven armed men ambushed a commercial truck on along a road to Nyala. The armed men, suspected to be members of a rebel group, looted 400 liters of diesel and fled; no casualties were reported.

Also over the weekend, the Secretary-Generals Deputy Special Representative for Sudan, Manuel Aranda da Silva, lad a senior UN delegation that visited Nyala to follow up on the incident that took place on 19 January, including violence against UN and international NGO staff. The senior UN delegation reviewed steps taken to address the incident and to prevent it from recurring.

BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS LATEST SUICIDE BOMBING IN ISRAEL

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms todays suicide bombing at a bakery in Eilat, Israel, which killed three people and wounded another. Such acts of terrorism are a violation of international humanitarian law and can never be justified. The Secretary-General sends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this attack.

The Secretary-General is also alarmed at announcements that further attacks against Israeli civilians are being planned. He calls for swift action by Palestinian security forces to bring to justice those responsible and prevent further attacks.

U.N. ENVOY CONCERNED BY ESCALATING INTRA-PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Alvaro de Soto, today said that the attack in Eilat can have no justification, noting that it was an attack on ordinary people who were going about their daily lives.

De Soto also issued a statement over the weekend expressing his concern at the escalating factional violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly Gaza, and at reports that national dialogue is being suspended.

He called on all parties to cease clashes and comply with international humanitarian law by refraining from acts which endanger civilians. He encourages the resumption, without delay, of intra-Palestinian dialogue with a view to the early realisation of agreement on a national unity government with a realistic and positive platform regarding the basic principles of the peace process.

Asked whether de Soto was encouraged by reports that the Palestinian leaders would travel to Mecca for talks, the Spokeswoman said that, in light of the Quartet meeting scheduled for 2 February, the United Nations was very much interested in what would happen there.

CONGOLESE PEOPLE MUST BE ENCOURAGED AS THEY SOLIDIFY DEMOCRACY

The Secretary-General visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the weekend, telling reporters before he arrived in the country that it is important to encourage the Congolese Government and people as they solidify their democratic process.

He addressed the 500-member Congolese Parliament on Saturday and pledged to do everything possible to ensure continuity and support for the DRC in this critical post-electoral period.

And he briefly traveled to Brazzaville, in the Republic of the Congo where he held a meeting with Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is the current African Union President.

On Sunday morning, the Secretary-General left Kinshasa for a visit to Kisangani, where he met with President Joseph Kabila.

U.N. ENVOY MEETS WITH SYRIAN OFFICIALS FOR TALKS ON IRAQ

Over the weekend, Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to discuss recent developments in Iraq and their impact on the region.

He stressed the need for greater regional engagement in support of the efforts by the Government of Iraq in reducing violence, bringing greater stability and promoting national reconciliation among all Iraqis. He also praised Syrias role and generosity in hosting a large number of Iraqis and discussed ways in which the United Nations could assist in alleviating their needs.

HOLOCAUST A UNIQUE & UNDENIABLE TRAGEDY

The second annual observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust was marked with a ceremony this morning in the General Assembly Hall.

In a video message to the gathering, the Secretary-General called the Holocaust a unique and undeniable tragedy, and said that todays tribute was an essential response to those misguided individuals who claimed that the Holocaust never happened.

Saying that we must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to todays world, the Secretary-General also welcomed the participation in todays ceremony by disabled persons and the Roma and Sinti community, who were also victimized by the Nazis.

NUMBER OF PEACEKEEPERS IN LEBANON RISES ABOVE 12,000

The number of peacekeepers serving in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) rose above 12,000, following todays arrival of the main contingent soldiers from Qatar.

Also on Monday, two Belgian de-miners were injured by shrapnel in a cluster bomb explosion during a mine-clearance operation in the vicinity of Kunin, near the town of Bint Jubayl. Their injuries were not life threatening.

Asked about the flight of balloons from Israel over the Blue Line, the Spokeswoman noted that UNIFIL recorded all violations of resolution 1701, but had not specifically mentioned the balloons.

Asked whether the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy, Geir Pedersen, had met with Lebanese Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, the Spokeswoman said that Pedersens meetings with all parties continue in his efforts to help find a peaceful solution. Pedersen, Montas said, had met with the Secretary-General in Paris last week to brief him on his meetings.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES HAITI: This morning the Security Council held a private meeting for troop-contributing countries for the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Council then held consultations on Haiti, with a briefing by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Haiti, Edmond Mulet.

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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