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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-26

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

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, February 26, 2001

ANNAN HOPES IRAQ TALKS WILL BREAK CURRENT IMPASSE

The talks between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, began this morning at 10 a.m.

The two first met alone for 20 minutes and they were then joined by their respective delegations.

The morning session of discussions lasted until noon and will resume this afternoon at 3 p.m.

When entering the building this morning, Secretary-General spoke to reporters telling them: I am encouraged that the Iraq delegation is here and we're looking forward to a frank and constructive dialogue, and I hope we'll be able to find some ways as we move forward of breaking the current impasse, which no one considers satisfactory.

ROBINSON CALLS ON CHINESE TO HALT FORCED LABOUR DETENTION

Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), is in Beijing today where she delivered a speech at a workshop on punishment of minor crimes.

In her address, the High Commissioner touched upon a number of issues, including the practice by the Chinese authorities of administrative detention and re-education through labour.

She told the audience: I believe that a serious review leading to the abolition of the practice of re-education through labour is justified. Adding: the concept of using forced labour as punishment is against the accepted human rights principles embodied in many international instruments.

This workshop, organized jointly by her office and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, marks the first step in the implementation of a the Memorandum of Understanding, signed in November of last year, on technical cooperation between the Government of China and the High Commissioners office

MORE THAN 300 FLEE TO KOSOVO FROM ACROSS BORDER IN FYROM

More than 300 people have fled to Kosovo amid reports of as a result of rising tensions on the border between Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which reported this information in Pristina today, said that the latest arrivals were in the Kosovo villages of Debelde and Vitina. Of the 309 new arrivals since last week, more than 100 arrived yesterday, UNHCR said.

UNHCR said that forces of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are increasing and apparently, there have been shootings towards the village of Tanusevce. There is no independent confirmation of what is going on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia side.

The UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is very concerned about the latest developments and UNHCR field teams are interviewing the new arrivals in Kosovo.

The Kosovo Protection Force (K-FOR) it is increasing ground patrolling and surveillance of the Kosovo-FYROM border.

ANNAN RECOMMENDS CONTINUATION OF WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL

In a new report, the Secretary-General responded to the Security Council's request, made last November in Resolution 1329 (2000), to deliver an assessment on when the temporal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) could be terminated.

In his report, the Secretary-General noted that the Security Council, in Resolution 827 (1993), had left the date by which the Tribunal's temporal jurisdiction would end open until "the restoration of peace." But the Council still considers that the situation in the region of the former Yugoslavia constitutes a threat to international peace and security, he added.

Accordingly, the Secretary-General considers that he is not in a position to make an assessment that peace has been restored in the former Yugoslavia, or to recommend a terminal date to the Council for the Tribunal's temporal jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the third trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found two Bosnian Croat leaders -- Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez -- guilty of war crime and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims in the Lasva Valley in 1992 and 1993. For their roles in the ethnic cleansing campaign, Kordic was sentenced today to 25 years' imprisonment and Cerkez to 15 years.

EXCESSIVE PRICE OF AIDS DRUGS MUST BE ADDRESSED

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette today opened the informal consultations, chaired by the President of the General Assembly, that are preparatory to the General Assembly's Special Session on HIV/AIDS, which will take place here from June 25 through 27.

The Deputy Secretary-General said that more people died of AIDS last year than in any previous year, and she warned, "Unless we act more decisively and effectively than we have yet been able to, these grim figures will continue to multiply." She called for resolute action to deal with the price and availability of drugs to deal with AIDS, to address the "desperate inadequacy" of public health systems in poor countries and to end "the culture of shame and silence" surrounding AIDS.

After her remarks, Dr. Peter Piot, head of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), presented in detail the Secretary-General's report on AIDS, which was issued last week and will be discussed in this week's consultations. That report urged Governments to step up their commitment in the fight against AIDS, which it called "the most formidable development challenge of our time."

FIRST HUMANITARIAN AID REACHES STRANDED REFUGEES IN GUINEA

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) just reported that the first humanitarian convoy since last autumn to deliver aid to tens of thousands of stranded refugees in the beleaguered Parrots Beak region of southwestern Guinea arrived today.

The 11-truck convoy, organized by UNHCR and carrying 58 tons of food provided by the World Food Programme, arrived in the town of Temessadou and immediately began off-loading its cargo under the supervision of aid workers.

From now on, UNHCR said daily convoys are planned for the area.

UN FORCES IN TIMOR EXCHANGE FIRE WITH SUSPECTED MILITIA MEMBERS

The UN Peacekeeping Force in East Timor was involved in a clash with two suspected militia members on Friday night near the border with West Timor, Indonesia.

One of the militiamen was armed with a rifle and the peacekeeping patrol opened fire when the man raised his weapon to shoot. There were no casualties.

The Acting Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Smith, said that as long as the militia threat remains we must continue to be strong and will react swiftly and robustly to any threat.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

No formal meetings or consultations of the Security Council are scheduled for today. However, its Working Group of Peace Keeping Operations met this morning.

The first Preparatory Committee meeting for the Second World Assembly on Ageing opens today at UN Headquarters. The session will end on March 2. Discussions will focus on the revision of the International Plan of Action adopted in Vienna in 1982, amidst growing concern over the speed and scale of current and projected global ageing, particularly in the developing world.

Out today is the Secretary-General's report on the UN Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), the UN body which interacts with the UN Foundation, the charity set up by Ted Turner to disburse one billion dollars in support of UN projects. The report notes that a total of some $75 million were programmed for the year 2000, including $42 million for projects involving population and women, $9 million for children's health, and $17 million for the environment.

The Government of Japan and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today concluded an agreement in Amman, Jordan, for Japan to contributed 800 million yen ($6.8 million) to the UN food assistance program for Palestinian refugees.

Two more countries have paid their regular budget dues in full for the year 2001: Ethiopia and Fiji both paid their regular 2001 budget dues with payment of more than $41,000 each.

UN Habitat issued a press release today in Nairobi on the successful completion of the second and final preparatory conference for Istanbul plus Five.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) has made available on their website the comments they received from the Government of Togo and from Amnesty International on the recently released report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Togo.

In response to a question on the meeting scheduled today between the Secretary-General and Celso Lafer, the Foreign Minister of Brazil, the Spokesman said the meeting was being held at the request of the Foreign Minister.

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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