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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-28

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

A WORLD OF NEWS FROM THE WORLD ORGANIZATION

Wednesday, 28 January 1998


This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.

Latest developments


HEADLINES

  • Secretary-General confers with Foreign Minister of Russian Federation on Iraq.
  • Russian Federation works towards United Nations adoption of draft convention against nuclear terrorism.
  • United Nations health agency finds no "chicken flu" in southern China, but says surveillance still needed.
  • United Nations leader says progress has been made in stabilization of Eastern Slavonia.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan, currently on an official visit to London, conferred on Wednesday by telephone with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Yevgeny M. Primakov. "The topic of their conversation was Iraq," said a Spokesman for the Secretary-General, adding that he had no further information on their discussions at present.

The Secretary-General is scheduled to have a working luncheon on Thursday in London with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Robin Cook.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General met with a number of top officials in Paris. Addressing the press briefly before departing for London, he said that his forthcoming report on Iraq would contain recommendations aimed at improving the situation of the Iraqi people. He stressed that the Security Council could lift the sanctions against Iraq if the country's Government would allow United Nations weapons inspectors to conduct their work.

In a meeting lasting over an hour with French President Jacques Chirac, the two discussed a wide range of issues, including the situations in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Western Sahara and Algeria, as well as United Nations reform. President Chirac extended his congratulations to the Secretary-General for having accomplished as much as he had done on reform in his first year in office and offered the full support of France.

The Secretary-General and President Chirac also talked about the special session of the General Assembly on illicit drugs to be held in New York next June, which the French leader said he would attend.

Also while in Paris, the Secretary-General met with Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. They discussed United Nations reform, including enlargement of the Security Council. In addition, they touched on the situations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Western Sahara and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Secretary-General had earlier met with the President of the French Senate, Rene Monory. They discussed the United Nations financial crisis and the Organization's reform programme. They also talked about Angola, Iraq, Algeria and, particularly, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


An act of nuclear terrorism could have a potentially devastating impact, spreading hysteria and fear, and "terrorists find this particularly attractive". This caution comes in a new report from the Russian Federation, which contains commentary on a draft convention against nuclear terrorism it submitted to a United Nations committee last year. The intergovernmental committee, set to reconvene next month, will consider the draft convention and Russia's commentary.

Such a convention would constitute an important "pre-emptive" measure against acts of nuclear terrorism, according to Russia. The current instrument in place -- the 1980 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material -- covers only the prevention of nuclear components being taken from States bodies. "Obviously, this instrument alone is insufficient to eliminate the danger of nuclear terrorism in all its manifestations", the report states.

The 20-article draft convention submitted by Russia provides a lengthy definition of acts of nuclear terrorism. They include the use or threat to use nuclear material, nuclear fuel, radioactive products or waste, or any other radioactive substances with toxic, explosive or other dangerous properties. The definition includes the use or threat to use any nuclear installations, nuclear explosive or radiation devices in order to kill or injure persons, damage property or the environment or to coerce persons, States or international organizations.

The text would apply exclusively to acts by individuals, and its scope should not include the questions of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons or nuclear threats posed by States or intergovernmental organizations.

Russia's draft convention is being considered by the same committee which drafted the International Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 December 1997. The committee will meet at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 16 to 27 February.


The United Nations health agency issued a statement on Wednesday calming fears of "chicken flu" in southern China but still calling for continued vigilance.

A World Health Organization (WHO) team just back from China's Guangdong province found no human case of a strain of influenza which has spread from chickens to humans in Hong Kong. But the team stressed that "intensified levels of surveillance" would be needed for at least six more months because of the potential risk of the adaptation of the virus from poultry to humans. Daniel Lavanchy, who heads the WHO programme on influenza surveillance and participated in the team, said if the chicken flu adapts to humans "it could lead to the transmission of a highly virulent strain from person to person".

The technical team, which was in China from 16 to 22 January, visited epidemic prevention centres, hospitals, influenza surveillance sites, poultry farms, a wholesale market and animal quarantine laboratories.

The last reported case of chicken flu virus in humans was in Hong Kong on 28 December 1997, according to WHO. Authorities in Hong Kong will resume the importation of chickens from mainland China on 7 February. WHO stressed that there is no public health reason for other countries to ban the importation of chicken and chicken products from China, including Hong Kong.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that progress has been achieved in the stabilization of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium in Croatia.

In his report on the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), the Secretary-General says that the efforts made by the Government of Croatia give hope that the conclusion of the mandate of UNTAES on 15 January 1998 will not jeopardize the results of two years of intensive international investment and effort in the region.

The United Nations leader points out, however, that several key issues remained unresolved in such areas as property and tenancy rights, funding for the Joint Council of Municipalities and full implementation of the Amnesty Law. "The lack of progress on these commitments could have serious implications and affect other areas as local confidence in Government pledges erodes," the Secretary-General says in his report.

The Secretary-General says that the United Nations Civilian Police Support Group will work closely with the Government of Croatia to monitor police operations in the Danube region and to improve the professional qualities of the multi-ethnic police forces. He adds that this commitment and support from the international community will ensure that the region is policed effectively and impartially to facilitate the process of two-way returns of displaced persons this year.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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