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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-03-18

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:





Thursday, March 18, 2004


Secretary-General Kofi Annan received a letter from the President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Mohammed Bahr Al-Uloom, thanking the United Nations for sending the Lakhdar Brahimi mission to Iraq and welcoming UN consultation on the broad national dialogue regarding the shape and scope of the interim government. The letter was delivered by the Charge d'affaires Said S. Ahmad of the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations.

The letter also said that the Governing Council looks forward to UN assistance with the direct elections to take place before the end of January next year.

In the course of the morning a similar letter was received from L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq.

The Secretary-General will be meeting with Brahimi shortly to discuss the letters, and a reply is likely to go out by the end of today, or by tomorrow, to both letters, and they will also be shared with the Security Council.

Asked when the letters were delivered, the Spokesman said the letter from the Iraqi Governing Council had been delivered by the Iraqi Ambassador by 11.40 am; he understood the letter from Bremmer had arrived during the course of the morning.

Regarding the contents of the letters, the Spokesman said they would be sent to the Security Council after which they may become available. The Secretary-General was meeting with Brahimi to discuss the letters and to prepare responses to them, which would also be sent to the Security Council.

Asked whether Lakhdar Brahimi had confidence in the message relayed to him by an aide of Ayatollah Sistani, which had been mentioned in Wednesdays briefing, the Spokesman said he thought that Brahimi had no doubt that he had received a message from the Ayatollah through a close aide.

Responding to a question about whether the United Nations was favorably disposed to sending Brahimi and an electoral team back into Iraq, he said that the Secretary-General was prepared to help; he was completing his consultations with Brahimi.

Asked about the impact of Wednesdays bombing in Baghdad, the Spokesman said the security situation was still not good and it would be evaluated carefully before sending staff back; nonetheless long term planning for a return to Iraq continued, with special emphasis on security provisions.

"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US; Regarding whether a future team would needs to travel outside Baghdad, the Spokesman said he assumed that an electoral team would have to travel outside the capital. The Coalitional Provisional Authority had assured the United Nations that it would make all necessary security arrangements for its activities, but he could not predict exactly what those activities would be or where they may take place.


Pursuant to the 13 February agreement on the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, the Secretary-General yesterday sent letters of invitation convening a meeting of the two sides, with the participation of Greece and Turkey in order to lend their collaboration, in a concentrated effort to agree on a finalized test by 29 March 2004.

Accordingly, the process under way will from 24 March continue at Burgenstock, a hotel complex in the outskirts of Lucerne, Switzerland, that would be UN premises for the duration of the meeting.

The Secretary-General looks forward to the two sides and Greece and Turkey meeting their commitments under the 13 February agreement, and has asked that all concerned be in a position to make final commitments at Burgenstock. The Secretary-General will be personally involved in the effort as it draws to an end.

Asked to comment on a statement by Denktash that he would not participate in the Lucerne talks, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General expected each side to abide by the commitments made in New York on the 13 of February.

Regarding the activities of Under Secretary-General Kieran Prendergast in Cyprus, he said that he had no details of them, except through press reports of comments he made as he was leaving Cyprus.

Asked who would be representing the United Nations at the Lucerne talks, the Spokesman said that Alvaro de Soto would be involved for now and, at some point, the Secretary-General would join the talks.


The ongoing violence throughout Kosovo is the worst since UNMIK, the UN Mission, was established there five years ago.

Final counts on the damage caused and on those who were killed or injured is continuing. Up until this morning, 22 people had been confirmed dead and approximately 500 injured including 61 police officers and 11 KFOR soldiers.

At a press conference earlier today, Harri Holkeri, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, called on all political leaders and media to refrain from making inflammatory statements. He also appealed to the people of Kosovo to calm down and return to their homes, and let the police and KFOR deal with the situation.

Asked about the causes of the Kosovo uprising and why UN staff were being attacked, the Spokesman said that the history books about that province better explained the tensions between Serbs and Albanians.

For the international community that was trying to get the two communities to live in harmony, the events were a set back. But there was very strong political action being taken by Special Representative, Harri Holkeri, as well as strong military action by the KFOR troops with reinforcement from Bosnia. The hope was that reason would eventually prevail.

In closed consultations of the Security Council at UN Headquarters, Security Council members heard a briefing on Kosovo from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi, and discussed a letter from Serbia and Montenegro requesting an urgent meeting on the outbreak of violence.

A public meeting on Kosovo was scheduled for 4 p.m.



Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Turk, today briefed the Security Council at an open meeting on the Middle East and the Palestinian question. In his briefing, Turk said the region has seen an increase in violence, death and suffering yet the possibility of restarting the peace process remains open.

He added that he hoped that the Gaza Strip withdrawal initiative, which was approved earlier this week by Israels parliament, is the bold step necessary to restart the peace process.

On the humanitarian front, Turk said UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, may soon be obliged to severely cut back its emergency activities due to a sharp drop in its emergency funding.

Turk also reiterated a call made by the Middle East Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen last month, for all parties including the international community to act seriously to implement the Road Map.

After the open meeting on the Middle East, the Security Council went into consultations on the same topic.



The Spokesman was asked about the nature of the investigation being conducted by the UNs Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) into the Oil for Food Programme, and who was being investigated. He replied that OIOS would want details of the investigation to be kept confidential.

He had at no time meant to suggest that the scope of the investigation would go beyond UN personnel. Neither the Secretary-General, nor, he believed, the OIOS, had the authority or the capacity to investigate Governments or private companies. The OIOS investigation was limited to the activities of UN staff involved in the Oil for Food Programme.

Regarding what laws any wrongdoings would be prosecuted under, the Spokesman it depended what laws had been broken. The United Nations would look at the ethical standards that employees were expected to follow in the conduct of their work. If national laws had been broken, he was not sure how OIOS would proceed, but conceivably it could turn over the results of the investigations to national authorities for prosecution under national laws.

Asked to comment on reports of testimonies from the U.S. General Accounting Office that as much as US$ 10 billion may have been skimmed off the Oil for Food Programme, the Spokesman said the only way to comment on a figure like that would be after a comprehensive investigation of all aspects of the Oil for Food Programme that also covered the activities of Governments and companies. Any such investigation would require the support of the Security Council. In this respect, the Secretary-General had indicated this week that he had been talking to members of the Council. Asked whether Council members were eager to provide this support, the Spokesman said it was too early to tell, or to say how broader investigation would be approached.

Regarding whether a fact sheet could be prepared to explain the workings of the Oil for Food programme, the Spokesman said that a fact book would be needed. This was a highly complicated programme, and it was difficult for the press to report numbers and facts accurately.

The Office of the Spokesman was looking into a more effective way of informing journalists how the Programme worked; it was trying to bring back people who belonged to the Programme and who still worked within the Organization. He hoped to have these resource people available within the next 24 hours to answer questions.


Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, met US President George Bush yesterday to discuss a range of nuclear non-proliferation issues.

These included IAEA verification of Iran's nuclear programme and ideas on how to control nuclear proliferation.

Also discussed was the need to restrict the number of countries that can enrich uranium, and reprocess plutonium that can be used for nuclear fuel or bomb.

ElBaradei also briefed a U.S. Congressional Committee and held discussions with other high-level US officials during his visit to Washington, D.C.


WORK CONCLUDED ON DRAFT LAWS FOR POST-CONFLICT STATES: Legal and human rights experts meeting in Ireland, have concluded work on ground-breaking draft legislation to help countries emerging from war rebuild their justice systems. The draft laws are designed to be used by peace support missions and transitional administrations. The drafts follow up on a recommendation in the 2000 Secretary-Generals report on the reform of peacekeeping operations, also known as the Brahimi report. Further details are available in a press release from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

U.N. OFFICIAL CALLS FOR RELEASE OF KIDNAP VICTIMS: Mukesh Kapila, the top UN official in Sudan is demanding the release of two Chinese water engineers who were abducted when the town they were working in came under attack last Friday in the south Darfur region of Sudan.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PAN-AFRICAN PARLIAMENT: In a message to the inaugural meeting of the Pan-African Parliament of the African Union, the Secretary-General said the authentic voice of the peoples of Africa at long last will have a more direct influence on policy and action in the African Union. In Addis Ababa to deliver the message is Tuliameni Kalomoh, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

VOTER REGISTRATION REACHES 1.5 MILLION MARK IN AFGHANISTAN: UNAMA, the UN Mission in Afghanistan, announced today that voter registration has reached the 1.5 million mark.

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:

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