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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-08-18

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

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, August 18, 2003

ANNAN WELCOMES SIGNING OF PEACE AGREEMENT FOR LIBERIA

[In a statement issued Monday afternoon, "Times New Roman";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language: Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the signing today in Accra, Ghana of a comprehensive peace agreement for Liberia.

"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language: The Secretary-General thanks the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), his Special Representative for West Africa, and the United States Government for assisting the Liberian parties in reaching this agreement. He calls on all concerned to seize this opportunity to work together to restore peace and stability in the country. He further calls upon the international community to support the parties in that endeavour. The United Nations is presently making every effort to assist with the overwhelming humanitarian needs of the country, and to plan for a peacekeeping operation to take over from the multinational force authorized under Security Council resolution 1497 (2003).]

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia, Jacques Klein, is in Accra, Ghana, where the agreement was signed.

SECURITY COUNCIL RECEIVES LETTERS REGARDING LIFTING OF LIBYA SANCTIONS

Just hours after power was restored following the massive blackout, representatives of Libya, the United Kingdom and the United States met late Friday afternoon with the Security Council President, Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe of Syria.

Libyan Ambassador Ahmed Own presented a letter stating Libyas commitment to cooperate in the international fight against terrorism and said that it has arranged for the payment of appropriate compensation in connection with the 1988 explosion of Pan American flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, with the necessary sums to be transmitted to an escrow account within a matter of days.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry and U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, in a joint letter, said that in view of Libyas actions, they are prepared to allow for the lifting of the sanctions measures set out against Libya in Security Council resolutions 748 and 883, once the necessary sums have been transferred into an escrow account.

A resolution regarding those sanctions is expected to be introduced shortly.

In Helsinki, Finland, last Friday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked by reporters about the Libya sanctions and replied, "I think we will need to move ahead and resolve the Libyan issue." He added that, for all practical purposes, the sanctions, which the Security Council suspended in 1999, have not been in effect, and that he expects the Council to proceed with the formal lifting of sanctions.

LIBERIA: UN ENVOY SECURES ACCORD ON HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

On Sunday, the Special Representative for Liberia Jacques Klein secured a signed agreement by the Liberian warring parties to ensure free and unimpeded access to all territories under their control to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance by international organizations and non-government organizations, and guarantee the security and safety of all members and equipment of international organizations and non-governmental organizations operating in territory under their control.

The agreement on the distribution of humanitarian aid assistance in Liberia was signed by representatives of the Government of Liberia, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), witnessed by ECOWAS, the African Union and Klein, on behalf of the United Nations.

The agreement states it comes into effect immediately, but in order to allow time for the commanders to inform all fighters, it has been agreed that the provisions will take effect from 23.59 hrs this Tuesday.

Immediately on arrival in Accra on Saturday, Klein met with Liberian President Moses Blah and his ministers; ECOWAS chief mediator Gen. Abdelsalami Abubakar; ECOWAS Executive Secretary Mohamed Ibn Chambas, members of the International Contact Group for Liberia; and Ambassador Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, who is representing the United Nations at the talks.

Klein and his team are expected to return to Monrovia Tuesday to undertake preparations for the arrival of the UN assessment team, whose report will form the basis of the request to the Security Council for a mandate for the peacekeeping force for Liberia.

UN HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES STEP UP RELIEF EFFORTS IN LIBERIA

The signing of an agreement on humanitarian access is a hopeful sign that it will be possible to meet the needs of Liberias long-suffering populationmany of whom have been cut off from aid for months or even years.

While UN humanitarian agencies are waiting to see if the agreement will hold, they are conducting assessments that would allow them to re-establish operations in areas that had been cut off from aid by fighting. On Tuesday, an assessment team will go to the town of Tubmanburg to evaluate which humanitarian needs are most urgent and to see if security conditions are conducive for resuming humanitarian activities. Later in the week, a similar assessment will be undertaken in the Liberian port town of Buchanan.

There were also minor improvements in the humanitarian situation in Monrovia over the weekend. As security in the capital improved, many of Monrovias 450,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have begun returning to their homes.

The World Food Programme has been distributing the 4,300 metric tons of food that were not looted last week. The UNs food agency will prioritize urgent distributions to some 200,000 children under the age of five, as well as patients in Monrovias hospitals. The World Health Organization (WHO) has begun distribution of the 5 tons of medical supplies that landed in Monrovia last week.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON KOSOVO, DR CONGO AND OTHER MATTERS

The Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on Kosovo at 3:00 p.m. today. Deputy Serbian Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic is expected to be the first speaker.

That meeting is scheduled to be followed by consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other matters.

ANNAN AND FINNISH PRESIDENT DISCUSS IMPORTANCE OF MULTILATERALISM

The Secretary-General met on Friday afternoon in Helsinki with the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, with whom he discussed the lessons learned by the recent experience in Iraq. They talked about the importance of multilateralism, the role the United Nations can play in Iraq and the need for the involvement of neighboring countries. The President offered her support for the Secretary-General's efforts.

They also discussed the Millennium Development Goals, as well as Liberia, disarmament and cooperation among regional organizations.

Afterward, the Secretary-General spoke to the press and said that "what happens in Iraq does not happen in a vacuum, and the neighbors have to work with us if we are going to stabilize Iraq."

Asked about a timetable for UN involvement in Iraq, he said that discussions in the Security Council on a greater UN role are at an early stage, adding, "I do not see a second resolution on that for some time, if we are going to get one."

IRAQ: MORE THAN $1 BILLION IN FOOD CONTRACTS PRIORITIZED FOR DELIVERY

The Office of the Iraq Programme reports that over the past week, food contracts valued at more than one billion dollars have been prioritised for delivery to Iraq following consultations involving the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraqi experts and the United Nations. The World Food Programme will work directly with contractors to expedite shipments of most of the prioritised items, including rice, milk powder and sugar.

The Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, has been in Iraq since August 13 to discuss the closure and handover arrangements for the "oil-for-food" program.

In other Iraq news, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is helping to improve water and medical services in villages where displaced Arabs have returned under a program to stabilize returnee communities in northern Iraq. UNHCR says that an estimated 800,000 people have been displaced internally in Iraq by conflicts and the previous expulsions of Iraqi Kurds.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

AFGHANISTAN: In northern Afghanistan, a multi-party commission including representatives of the UN Mission and members of various factions has begun a disarmament exercise in Sholgara, which began on Saturday. Under an agreement signed by the main faction leaders in Mazar-i-Sharif, all military weapons are to be surrendered to the multi-party commission for storage in the respective military units in Mazar, while all personal weapons must be registered.

AFGHANISTAN-ATTACKS: The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, over the weekend condemned the vicious attack that took place last Wednesday, which resulted in the death of two national staff members of the Afghan Red Cross.

UN TRIBUNAL FOR EX-YUGOSLAVIA: Last Friday, Mitar Rasevic, the commander of guards at the Foca prison camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1994, was transferred to the detention unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and he is having his first appearance before the Tribunal today. Rasevic is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Tuesday, August 19

The Security Council intends to hold an open briefing, followed by consultations, on the Middle East.

Wednesday, August 20

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Cote dIvoire and on its panel dealing with sanctions on Somalia.

Thursday, August 21

The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing on Iraq.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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