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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-27

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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

Tuesday, February 27, 2001

ANNAN BEGINS SECOND DAYS OF TALKS WITH IRAQI DELEGATION

Secretary-General Kofi Annan had another session this morning with the Iraqi delegation headed by Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. He started with a one-on-one with the Foreign Minister for less than ten minutes and then the full delegations met for another 40 minutes.

Whereas talks on Monday were taken up with a comprehensive presentation from the Iraqi side of its grievances since the end of the Gulf War, this morning the Secretary-General said that what was required was to explore the way forward.

There will be a concluding session this afternoon, starting at 3:30.

The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council on the talks on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister has scheduled a press conference at UN headquarters on Wednesday morning at 10:15.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had attended every session of the talks with the Iraqis, and had suggested Monday that the two sides this morning begin to look forward.

Asked about reports that Iraqi oil has been flowing through Syria, he said that the United Nations had asked Iraq and Syria about those reports and both said that no oil is flowing through the pipeline. Eckhard noted that the United Nations has no mandate to send inspectors to verify the reports. It would be up to the Security Council to decide any further response.

Asked about communications between the Secretary-General and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Spokesman said that the two spoke just before noon by telephone. When Powell visited the United Nations this month, he and Annan agreed to exchange views on Powell's visit to the Middle East and the talks between Iraq and the United Nations.

UN REPORTS REDUCED OIL EXPORTS IN IRAQ

There has been a revenue loss of over $2.2 billion, or 2.4 billion euros to the "oil-for-food" program since December 2000, as a result of reduced Iraqi oil exports, notes the Office of the Iraq Programme in its weekly update. The figures were provided by the UN oil overseers to the Security Councils 661 Sanctions Committee at a meeting Monday.

Should this trend continue, revenue generated in Phase IX of the "oil-for-food" program could be around $3.5 billion, while, if exports return to their traditional levels, the expected income could rise to $5.7 billion.

Iraqi oil exports during the week of February 17 - 23 witnessed yet another modest increase, totaling 12.2 million barrels through seven loadings. The estimated revenue from these exports was 267 million euros at current prices.

ANNAN TO TRAVEL TO SOUTH ASIA IN MARCH

The Secretary-General will travel to South Asia in March, paying official visits to Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

He will arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan on the evening of March 10, where he will meet with Pakistan's Chief Executive, President and Foreign Minister. He will also visit an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar.

On March 13, he will travel to Bangladesh, where he will meet with the Prime Minister, President and Foreign Minister, and he will deliver an address on the environment.

On March 15, the Secretary-General will travel to India, stopping first at Bangalore, India's "Silicon Valley", for a meeting with business leaders. In New Delhi, on March 16-17, he will meet with Prime Minister, President and Foreign Minister, as well as members of the political opposition.

He will return to New York on March 18.

He may travel by private plane to and from London. There could be some room for journalists interested in accompanying the Secretary-General.

ANNAN APPEALS TO TALIBAN TO PRESERVE AFGHAN SHRINES

The Secretary-General, in a statement, expressed alarm at the edict issued Monday by the Taliban's supreme leader ordering the destruction of all statues and non-Islamic shrines in the country. This follows reports of the recent destruction of a number of precious items in the National Museum of Kabul.

The Secretary-General appealed to the Taliban leadership to abide by their previous commitments to protect Afghanistan's cultural heritage in general, and the two great Buddhist sculptures in Bamiyan in particular.

"Destroying any relic, any monument, any statue will only prolong the climate of conflict," the statement said. "After 22 years of war, destruction and drought, there can only be one priority for the Government: to rebuild the country, to renew the fabric of society, and to relieve the immense suffering and deprivation of the people of Afghanistan."

In addition to that statement, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today appealed for the preservation of cultural heritage landmarks in Afghanistan.

SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES EXTENSION OF UN SAHARA MISSION

The Security Council today voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Western Sahara, which was to have expired Wednesday, by another two months, until April 30.

The Council, in its resolution, said that the extension had been decided with the expectation that the parties, under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, James Baker, would continue to try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara dispute.

Earlier, the Council had held consultations to agree to the text of the Western Sahara resolution. Also, under "other matters," Council President Sad Ben Mustapha of Tunisia informed the Council that he had met Monday afternoon with the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

UN MISSION IN KOSOVO WELCOMES AMNESTY APPROVED IN BELGRADE

Today in Kosovo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Gary Matthews, welcomed the approval by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's Parliament of an amnesty for more than 100 Kosovo Albanians who are detained in Serbia.

He said in a statement, "Finally we can welcome back many of those who were held for too long in prison and with their return, a significant step will be taken towards healing some of the wounds of war."

However, he also noted that the UN Mission in Kosovo has demanded the return of all Albanian prisoners currently held in Serbia to Kosovo, where they would face judicial review by the Mission. The Mission called on the Belgrade Government to "return all the others who are detained as soon as possible."

UN REFUGEE AGENCY URGES EU OBSERVER MISSION IN PRESEVO AREA

Also today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged the European Union to deploy "an adequately staffed observer mission" in southern Serbia, to help contain mounting tension between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the predominantly Albanian-populated Presevo area in Serbia proper.

The appeal was made by High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers in letters addressed to Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, whose country holds the European Unions rotating presidency, and Javier Solana, the European Unions High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

UNICEF AIRLIFTS CHILD SOLDIERS FROM SUDAN

The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) announced that it had airlifted more than 2,500 child combatants out of conflict zones in Sudan and into safe areas where their rehabilitation and a family tracing process can begin. UNICEF said the operation began Friday and continued through the weekend.

The agency said the children ranging in age from 8 to 18 were demobilized from military camps run by the rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) under a personal commitment made by a rebel commander to UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, who announced the airlift at a press conference earlier today in Geneva.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The World Food Programme (WFP) today issued an urgent appeal for support of its operations in the Palestinian Territory. The agency is seeking funds for a three-month emergency operation to meet the immediate food requirements of the Palestinians who have been hardest hit by the growing economic crisis in the territory.

The full report on the "The Impact on the Palestinian Economy of Confrontations, Mobility Restrictions and Border Closures, 1 October 2000-31 January 2001," produced by the Office the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, was issued today.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today on the start of the food distribution effort in Guinea. UNHCR also mentioned a visit by former South African President Nelson Mandela, who is helping to broker a peace between Burundis warring factions, to Burundi refugees in Tanzania, and the continual arrival of refugees in Kenya from Zanzibar and Pemba despite a reported calm in the two islands.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima will be the guest at Wednesday's noon briefing, and will discuss his recent trip to Afghanistan.

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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