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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-31

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 FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 31, 2001

ANNAN CALLS FOR HEALING FOLLOWING LOCKERBIE VERDICT

In Camp Zeist, the Netherlands, this morning, a three-judge Scottish court announced their verdicts in the case of two Libyan nationals on trial for the bombing of a Pan American flight over Lockerbie, Scotland 12 years ago. The judges unanimously found one suspect, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, guilty of the crime and also ruled unanimously that the other suspect, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was not guilty.

Following the judges' ruling, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement, issued before his departure from Stockholm, that "justice has taken its course and the authority and legitimacy of the legal process must be respected." He added, "I hope that with this verdict the process of healing can begin and the relatives can move on with their lives."

The United Kingdom and the United States discussed the question of Libya today in the Security Council today, under "other matters," noting that they would be reviewing Libya's compliance with Security Council resolutions. The Ambassadors of Libya, the United Kingdom and the United States are expected to discuss the issue in the coming days.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS SOLANA BEFORE LEAVING SWEDEN

The Secretary-General is on his way back today to New York from Stockholm.

Before leaving the Swedish capital, had breakfast with Javier Solana, the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. They discussed Middle East issues and the security situation in the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia, as well as UN-EU relations.

On Thursday, the Secretary-General will work from home, and he is expected to return to work at the UN Headquarters on Friday.

COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES OF EAST TIMOR AND GEORGIA MISSIONS

This morning the Security Council began its work in closed consultations to discuss the draft resolutions extending the mandates of the UN Missions in East Timor (UNTAET) and in Georgia (UNOMIG), which expire today. They then discussed a draft Presidential Statement on strengthening cooperation with troop contributing countries.

The two resolutions and the Presidential Statement were adopted following the adjournment of the Council's consultations.

Also during today's consultations, Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury of Bangladesh, chairman of the working group on general issues of sanctions, briefed Council members on the recent deliberations of that working group.

In addition to comments by the US and US Ambassadors about today's verdict in the Lockerbie trials, the Council also held discussions to review its work during the month of January, which Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette attended.

KFOR TROOPS INJURED AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN MITROVICA

The latest reports from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) indicate that the situation in Mitrovica remains tense.

This afternoon, a crowd of Kosovo Albanians surrounded the Hotel Adriatic in southern Mitrovica, where French troops belonging to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) are stationed.

There have been three grenades thrown at French K-FOR troops today, wounding a total of 20 soldiers. In addition, seven Albanians are being treated for injuries from stun grenades.

On Tuesday evening, French riot troops from KFOR used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse crowds of Kosovo Albanians who had gathered both to the north and the south of the bridge on the Ibar River. There were about 1,000 demonstrators on the south side and some 200 on the north.

Some 53 personnel from the UN Mission remained in the UN Headquarters in southern Mitrovica until the crowd dispersed, at about 9 p.m. Tuesday night. All UN personnel then left the premises unharmed; however, a dozen French KFOR soldiers were reported to have been slightly wounded during the riot, in which two armored cars belonging to KFOR were set on fire and tires were slashed on five UN vehicles.

Speaking at a press briefing today in Pristina, Spokeswoman Susan Manuel said that the United Nations "cannot begin to implement any concrete measures in the face of a mob attacking peacekeeping soldiers, international police and civilians."

UN ENVOY COMMENDS CONGO FOR EFFORTS AT DIALOGUE

In a press conference given this morning in Kinshasa, Kamel Morjane, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), commended the current Government and the other parties to the conflict for their handling of the political and military situation following the assassination of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. He said that the situation could have led to more chaos in the country.

Morjane said that, by coming to New York this Friday to speak to the Security Council and to meet with the Secretary-General, new Congolese President Joseph Kabila is showing that "he places more importance on dialogue than on military action."

The Special Representative added that he hoped this renewed diplomatic dialogue will "have a positive impact on the much-awaited deployment of UN military observers." He added that the speed with which the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) fulfils its mandate depends on the level of cooperation it received from the various parties in this conflict.

He also noted the expected visit to UN Headquarters by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, possibly next week, will be another opportunity to work on the disengagement of forces from the DRC and the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

Morjane is now heading to New York to be present during President Kabilas visit to the United Nations.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General would see President Kabila around noon on Friday, but that he had not yet set a time for a meeting with President Kagame.

SIERRA LEONE REQUESTS POSTPONEMENT OF ELECTIONS

The Government of Sierra Leone has informed the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) that President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah has sent a letter to the Parliament requesting an extension of the term of office of his Government for six months.

The Government is asking to postpone Presidential elections due next month, and Parliamentary elections due in March, for six months due to the unfavorable security situation in the country.

COLD SNAP KILLS 110 AFGHANS IN HERAT DISPLACEMENT CAMPS

More than 110 displaced persons, mainly children, the elderly and women, died in camps in Herat, Afghanistan, overnight on Monday due to extreme cold. The temperature fell to 25 degrees Centigrade, cold enough to freeze the engines of vehicles and hamper the movement of aid workers to the camps.

Conditions in the six camps, housing 80,000 persons, are poor. There has been insufficient response to funding appeals, and the shortfall in shelter is so severe that 5,000 families are sharing 1,700 one-family tents.

The Spokesman, in a response to a question, said that the number of people who froze to death was expected to increase.

UN ENVOY WRAPS UP VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN AND TAJIKISTAN

Francesc Vendrell, the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative for Afghanistan has just concluded a visit to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

He held meetings Tuesday and today with President Emomali Rahmonov and Foreign Minister Talbal Nazarov of Tajikistan as part of regular consultations on recent developments in Afghanistan.

On Monday, he met with the Foreign Minister of the Taliban, Wakil Mutawakkil, and last week Vendrell held meetings with Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani and Vice President and Defence Minister Ahmad Shah Masoud.

They discussed Security Council sanctions against the Taliban and the situation of internally displaced persons, including those stranded on the Panj River on the border with Tajikistan.

SPEECH: UN PEACEKEEPERS' MEANS OF ACTION REMAIN WEAK

In Paris this morning, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, delivered a speech on behalf of the Secretary-General at an international colloquium on Peacekeeping and Conflict Prevention.

In the speech, the Secretary-General said that even though peacekeeping receives more resources and more attention than any other UN department, "our means of action remain too weak and we are all too often helpless in our effort to maintain peace and security as is required by the UN Charter."

But using many of the recommendations found in reports on UN actions in Rwanda and Srebenica, in addition to the report of the Brahimi panel on Peacekeeping, the Secretary-General said the United Nations is now adopting a more coordinated approach to peacekeeping and conflict prevention.

The Secretary-General added that, this May, he would present recommendations to the General Assembly to put in place a "practical and global strategy for conflict prevention."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Secretary-General has appointed Mohamed El Habib Fassi Fihri of Morocco as a permanent judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), replacing another Moroccan judge, Mohamed Bennouna, who had been serving on the court. Fassi Fihri's term will begin on March 1, and he will serve out the remainder of Justice Bennouna's term, which expires this November 16.

The Secretary-General, in a letter to the President of the Security Council, re-appointed five experts to the monitoring mechanism established pursuant to Resolution 1295 (2000), concerning sanctions against Angola's UNITA rebels. The Secretary-General has asked Ambassador Juan Larrain of Chile to continue as the chair of the monitoring mechanism, whose mandate was extended by the Security Council until April 19.

The Netherlands today became the 37th Member State to pay its regular budget contributions in full for this year with a payment of more than $18 million. At this date last year, 43 Member States had paid in full. The deadline for the payment of this year's regular budget contributions has been extended to February 3, because the notifications of assessment were not delivered until January 2-3.

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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