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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-11-13

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, November 13, 2006

ANNAN: POLITICAL ACTION NEEDED TO REPAIR RELATIONS BETWEEN CULTURES

Speaking in Istanbul today upon receiving the report on the Alliance of Civilizations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the report rightly notes that today, for better or worse, we clearly do not live in different civilizations, with migration, integration and technology bringing peoples closer together. He called for concerted social and political action to repair relations between people of different traditions and cultures.

He called for steps to protect freedom of religion, to build bridges between cultures through education and to create opportunities for young people to enable them to avoid extremism. But he added that as long as Palestinians live under occupation, and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and dance halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed.

Shortly after his arrival in Turkey on Sunday, the Secretary-General met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Dolmabahce Palace. On Monday morning, he met with Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab Moussa and then with Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, a member of the High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations. He also met with together with the Turkish Prime Minister and Spanish Prime Minister Josť Luis Rodriguez Zapatero before proceeding to the final meeting of the High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations.

The Secretary-General recently had a joint press conference with the Turkish and Spanish Prime Ministers, during which the Secretary-General elaborated on the work of the Alliance.

Asked whether Israeli officials were present at the Alliance of Civilizations panel, the Spokesman said that the members spanned a broad spectrum of religious and cultural backgrounds, and were not chosen on the basis of their nationality. The major religions, including the main monotheistic ones, were all represented. He added that the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey were there because they were the co-sponsors of the initiative.

Asked why there were no Israelis on the panel when the panelists concluded that Israel was "a problem," the Spokesman reiterated that panelists were not chosen the basis of nationality and he added it would be a misreading of the report to suggest that it portrays Israel as a problem; rather, he said, it says that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is something that needs to be resolved.

Asked about the actions proposed by the Alliance, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General would study the Alliance report and discuss it with his successor. Several of its recommendations were referred to in the Secretary-Generals speech, including those concerning ways to foster understanding and to encourage education.

ANNAN AND AFRICAN UNION CHAIRMAN CONVENE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON SUDAN IN ETHIOPIAN CAPITAL

As part of their ongoing joint efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the on going crisis in Darfur, the Secretary-General and the Chairman of the African Union have invited to a meeting in Addis Ababa on 16 November high level representatives from Russia, China, the United States, France and the United Kingdom as permanent members of the Security Council as well as high representatives from Congo, Gabon, Egypt and the League of Arab States. Others may also attend. And of course, there will also be representatives of the government of Sudan.

The intent is to discuss ways in which to address the situation and move the peace process decisively forward.

In a separate matter, on Friday, the Security Council discussed whether to send a delegation to Addis Ababa for talks taking place there today concerning the situation in Darfur. After those Friday consultations, the Council President, Ambassador Jorge Voto-Bernales of Peru, told reporters, We have not been able to reach a consensus on the mission from the Security Council attending the Addis Ababa meeting.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had asked the Security Council not to send a delegation to Addis, the Spokesman said that the Council is the master of its own fate and it is not up to the Secretary-General to decide for the Council.

He said that the Secretary-General was focused on the meeting on November 16 to bring the process on Darfur forward.

Asked about a hybrid force in Darfur, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had commented last week on the need to put together an effective force on the ground.

Asked whether the United Nations was still pushing for UN troops in Darfur, the Spokesman said that it bases its actions on

resolution 1706, and will see how the deployment of a credible force can be achieved.

MILITIAMEN ATTACK VILLAGES IN DARFUR, KILLING SCORES

The UN Mission in Sudan says that Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Heidi Annabi, is in Addis Ababa today after visiting Sudan where he held meetings with President Omar Hassan Al Bashir on Sunday and with the defence and foreign ministers on Saturday. The Mission says that Annabi and his interlocutors discussed the situation in Darfur and the UN support package for the African Union Mission in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the Mission says the security situation is volatile in all three states of Darfur, with a number of reported militia attacks on civilians, violent acts of banditry and clashes between Government and rebel forces. In North Darfur on Friday, the Mission says Arab militias attacked three villages, killing six civilians including four children.

In West Darfur, the Mission says that 300 armed militiamen backed by 18 military vehicles attacked camps for internally displaced persons in the village of Sirba, killing 31 people and injuring 18 others including women and children. The Mission says the attackers burned down some 98 houses. Following this incident, 10 international NGO staff members were relocated to El Geneina.

Available today is the Secretary-Generals monthly report on Darfur to the Security Council, in which he says that September witnessed an increase in violence in the region.

The Secretary-General also reports notes that fighting between the signatories and non-signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement intensified with the Sudanese government forces using aerial bombardment in attacks against villages controlled by the rebels. Meanwhile, several incidents indicated that tensions persist between these two signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement, although the ceasefire was generally observed.

On the humanitarian situation, the report says that insecurity, banditry and fighting continued to prevent access to populations in need.

Asked about Annabis meetings, the Spokesman said that it was part of the United Nations efforts to move forward on Darfur, which it considers to be a critical issue.

The United Nations continues to work to strengthen the African Union mission with a $21 million package that has the support of the African Union and the Sudanese Government, Dujarric said. The United Nations will continue to do what it can to move forward with the implementation of

resolution 1706.

ANNAN DEEPLY CONCERNED AT WORSENING SECURITY IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about worsening security conditions in north-eastern Central African Republic on the border with Sudans Darfur region. The situation continues to deteriorate amid ongoing rebel attacks in different parts of the country and the recent violent seizure of the city of Birao. He calls for the immediate end to the occupation of Birao so that humanitarian and security conditions can be alleviated for civilians living in the area.

The Secretary-General stresses the urgent need to find a comprehensive solution to the security problems along the borders of Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

Asked about follow-up, the Spokesman said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is in the lead and will report to the Council on ways to strengthen protection for civilians on the other side of the Darfur border.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF MEETS REBEL LEADER TO SEEK RELEASE OF CAPTIVE WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland met yesterday with Lords Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, to discuss a range of humanitarian issues related to LRA-associated non-combatants and to advance the peace talks between the LRA and the Government of Uganda. The meeting took place in an area of South Sudan close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During their half-hour meeting which also included Riek Machar, Vice-President of South Sudan and Chief Mediator for the peace talks, as well as members of the Ugandan and LRA negotiation teams Egeland asked Kony to come up with concrete humanitarian measures concerning the women, children and non-combatants who are currently with Konys army. Egeland later noted that the LRA leadership had agreed to come back within one month with an answer to this request. The LRA also agreed to identify, by 22 November, those sick and wounded in need of care.

According to Egeland, this was the first time the international community was able to impress upon the senior command of the LRA and their supreme leader the importance of humanitarian issues. Egeland also reiterated to Kony the commitment of the UN to invest in the peace process and bring humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, and safe drinking water, to LRA assembly points.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF CONCLUDES VISIT BY DELIVERING LETTER FROM ANNAN TO MYANMAR LEADERS

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, wrapped up a four-day visit to Myanmar on Sunday after meeting over the weekend with top government officials, including Senior General Than Shwe, as well as with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party, the National League for Democracy.

In his meeting with Than Shwe, Gambari delivered a letter from the Secretary-General reiterating his appeal for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Gambari also urged a government security review which should lead to the release of other detained persons.

Gambari also proposed measures to enable delivery of humanitarian assistance; offered the dispatch of a UN interagency technical mission to Kayin State, where civilians have been affected by the conflict there; and encouraged the Government to reach agreement with the International Labour Organisation on outstanding issues as a matter of urgency.

While acknowledging that the Secretary-Generals good offices is a "process", Gambari emphasized to Myanmar's leaders that "concrete actions" were expected by the United Nations and the international community.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi assured Gambari that she was in reasonably good health, even though she does require more regular medical visits. She said that she welcomes continued engagement by the United Nations with Myanmar, in the hope that it can be of help in addressing the political and humanitarian issues raised by Gambari during his visit.

UNITED STATES VETOES DRAFT RESOLUTION ON VIOLENCE IN GAZA

On Saturday, the Security Council failed to take action on a resolution concerning the recent violence in Gaza, due to a veto cast by the United States. There were ten votes in favour of the draft resolution, sponsored by Qatar, while four countries Denmark, Japan, Slovakia and the United Kingdom abstained.

Council members had discussed the draft resolution on Friday afternoon.

There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council scheduled for today.

UNITED NATIONS AWAITS LEBANONS RESPONSE ON PROPOSALS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL

Asked about Lebanons approval of the proposals sent by the United Nations last week concerning a tribunal that would examine the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not yet received official notification of such an approval from the Lebanese Government. He declined to comment to specific questions about that approval until it is formally received.

Asked whether the developments in the Lebanese Government affected the work done by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Spokesman said that UNIFILs mandate is provided by a Security Council resolution and its status had not changed. He declined to comment otherwise on Lebanese internal politics.

Asked about the risk posed by Israeli flights over Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would continue to protest such overflights forcefully, using political and diplomatic means. He called those flights violations of

resolution 1701.

Asked about Lebanons approval of the proposals sent by the United Nations last week concerning a tribunal that would examine the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not yet received official notification of such an approval from the Lebanese Government. He declined to comment to specific questions about that approval until it is formally received.

Asked whether the developments in the Lebanese Government affected the work done by UNIFIL, the Spokesman said that UNIFILs mandate is provided by a Security Council resolution and its status had not changed. He declined to comment otherwise on Lebanese internal politics.

Asked about the risk posed by Israeli flights over Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would continue to protest such overflights forcefully, using political and diplomatic means. He called those flights violations of resolution 1701.

Asked about UNIFILs role in dealing with weapons smuggling in Lebanon, the Spokesman said that resolution 1701 called for the international community to assist the Lebanese Government in securing its borders.

UNIFIL, he added, is concentrating on its area of operations south of the Litani River. He said that it has assisted the Lebanese Army in finding and confiscating weapons in that zone.

Asked about the work being done on the release of Israeli and Lebanese prisoners, the Spokesman said that the UN facilitator is continuing his work.

In response to a reporter who claimed that Michael Williams, Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department for Political Affairs, was the facilitator, Dujarric said that Williams was not the facilitator, but emphasized that, as a rule, he would not comment on the facilitators identity.

Williams, he added, had been in Lebanon as part of his regular duties to help draft the Secretary-Generals next report on the implementation of resolution 1701.

HIGH-LEVEL SECURITY COUNCIL DELEGATION VISITS AFGHANISTAN

A high-level delegation from the United Nations Security Council arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan over the weekend to review the progress and challenges facing the country as it strives to cement peace and stability following decades of conflict.

The delegation is led by the Japanese Ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, who said upon arrival in Kabul, We all recognise that there is much more that needs to be achieved but I am convinced that with the continuing commitment of the Afghan people we can and will succeed in bringing peace, stability and progress to Afghanistan.

During their four day visit the delegation will have meetings with President Hamid Karzai and other Ministers, Afghan civil society representatives and UN agencies working in Afghanistan. They will also travel to the south of Afghanistan to demonstrate solidarity with local Afghan communities most affected by the recent fighting.

Asked about the Council mission, the Spokesman noted that Oshima would brief the Security Council about the mission upon his return.

UNITED NATIONS PROBES KILLING OF PEACEKEEPERS IN HAITI

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) says it has opened an investigation into the circumstances that led to the killing of the two Jordanian peacekeepers who died on Friday evening after they were assaulted and shot by an unknown assailant in Port-au-Prince.

In a press release on Saturday, the Mission said that one peacekeeper died of gunshot wounds en route to a hospital while the other died of while receiving emergency care at the hospital. The Mission and the United Nations extend their deepest condolences to the bereaved families, to their colleagues in the Missions Jordanian battalion and to the Kingdom of Jordan.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General announced on Friday the appointment of Luiz Carlos da Costa as his Principal Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Mr. da Costa will assume his responsibilities on 15 November 2006.

ISOLATED CLASHES REPORTED IN D.R. CONGO CAPITAL

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported isolated clashes in Kinshasa on Saturday, between supporters of President Joseph Kabila and VicePresident Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Following the clashes, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in the DRC, William Lacy Swing, immediately called Kabila and the DRCs Minister of Interior. He also visited Bembas residence. Meanwhile, a working group that had been set up by the UN Mission last August consisting of UN and EU peacekeeping and police elements, Congolese army and police officers, and representatives of Kabila and Bemba held a special session.

The UN Mission also reinforced its patrols and reported that the situation in Kinshasa was calm by Saturday evening.

SRI LANKA: CERTAIN GOVERNMENT ELEMENTS RECRUITING CHILD SOLDIERS

Allan Rock, the Special Advisor on Sri Lanka to the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has concluded his 10-day mission to that country.

The missions initial findings reveal that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have not complied with their commitments to stop child recruitment and to release all children within their ranks.

The mission also found that the Karuna faction, a group that broke away from the LTTE, is continuing to abduct and forcibly recruit children in government-controlled areas in eastern Sri Lanka.

The mission found disturbing but credible evidence that certain elements of the government security forces are supporting and sometimes participating in those abductions.

NEW PROTOCOL ON UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE COMES INTO FORCE

A new international agreement has entered into force. The Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, which forms part of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, requires States Parties and participants in armed conflicts to take remedial measures to mark and clear, remove, or destroy unexploded ordnance or abandoned explosive ordnance as early as possible after hostilities end.

In a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General says that, while the entry into force does indeed mark significant progress, it is not an end in itself. He reminds the States Parties that they now bear the primary responsibility for the Protocols implementation.

ANNAN: MOVING U.N. FROM CULTURE OF REACTION TO ONE OF PREVENTION IS KEY PRIORITY

Today is the opening day for a two-day meeting organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which brings together legislators who are part of their national delegations to the UN General Assembly. This year's meeting is entitled Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building: Reinforcing the Key Role of the UN.

In a message to the meeting delivered by Deputy-Secretary-General Mark Malloch-Brown, the Secretary-General notes that one of his consistent objectives has been to move the UN from a culture of reaction to one of prevention.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL-DESIGNATE TO BE SWORN IN IN MID-DECEMBER: Asked about the swearing-in of Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moon, the Spokesman said that dates are still being discussed but added that it was expected to take place in the middle of December.

ANNAN SUPPORTS IDEA OF UNITY GOVERNMENT FOR PALESTINE: Asked about an agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah on a Palestinian government, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has supported the idea of a unity government among the Palestinians, but added that the United Nations was awaiting official notification of any agreement.

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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