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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-07-18

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

BAN KI-MOON URGES INCLUSIVENESS IN MYANMAR

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon takes note of the resumption today of Myanmars National Convention for its final session, as announced by the Government of Myanmar, and is closely following developments.

The Secretary-General wishes to encourage the Government of Myanmar to seize this opportunity to ensure that this and subsequent steps in Myanmars political roadmap are as inclusive, participatory and transparent as possible, with a view to allowing all the relevant parties to Myanmars national reconciliation process to fully contribute to defining their countrys future.

SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS VERY POSITIVE MEETING WITH U.S. PRESIDENT

The Secretary-General is back from Washington, D.C., where he met yesterday for an hour with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House. It was a very positive meeting where a number of issues were raised.

They discussed the progress made in

Darfur, with the acceptance by the government of Sudan of a joint United Nations-African Union force. The Secretary General appealed for U.S. assistance to help build safe and secure facilities in Darfur for the initial 3,000 personnel being deployed there.

On

Iraq, the Secretary-General stressed that military efforts need to be complemented by an active political engagement.

The Secretary-General and President Bush also exchanged views on the Middle East and a new U.S. initiative that would include other regional actors in the peace process. The Secretary-General stressed the need to strengthen the government of Palestinian President Abbas and expressed his concerns about the humanitarian needs of the population in Gaza. He had argued, he said, for the opening of the crossings into Gaza to alleviate the situation.

On climate change, the Secretary General welcomed the U.S. initiative in Heiligendamm on addressing the threat of climate change. The United States, he said, could play a leadership role with innovative technologies. The Secretary General and President Bush also discussed disarmament issues, Kosovo, the establishment of the International Tribunal for Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

During a press statement in the Oval Office at the end of the meeting with President Bush, the Secretary General once more spoke of Iraq, saying we are going to help them with political facilitation, as well as economic and social reconstruction. On Darfur, he said we are going to step up the political process. We have made a positive development yesterday in Tripoli through the meeting chaired by the United Nations and the African Union. We are going to have pre-negotiations in Arusha, Tanzania, in early August. We are also going to facilitate humanitarian assistance. I'm going to step up efforts to deploy hybrid operations as soon as possible, he said.

On climate change, he confirmed that he had extended an official invitation to President Bush to participate in a high-level U.N. debate on climate change, which will be held on September 24th in New York.

The Secretary-General earlier had a working breakfast that day with members of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee under the chairmanship of Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California) and later met with the Senates Foreign Relations Committee, hosted by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida).

In both meetings, the Secretary-General discussed United Nations reform, stressing his efforts towards greater transparency and accountability. He also raised the UN reform agenda on peacekeeping, disarmament and political affairs. He expressed his determination to increase the United Nations role in Iraq, but also noted the need that UN staff in Iraq receive proper protection.

On the Hill, the Secretary General also discussed issues of border monitoring between Syria and Lebanon, unity of command for the joint UN-AU force to be deployed in Darfur, the Human Rights Council , perspectives on Kosovo , the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and the situation of Iraqi refugees.

The Secretary General thanked the House voting to lift the cap on peacekeeping funding from 25% to the assessed 26.1%, a bill submitted by the House appropriations Committee and passed by the full House. A similar bill was passed by the Senate appropriation committee and is now subject to a vote in the full Senate before it goes to President Bush.

The Secretary-General is expected tomorrow in Lisbon for the Quartet meeting.

Asked whether this was the first time the Secretary-General had discussed Lebanon with President Bush, the Spokeswoman said that, to her understanding, it was the first time that they had discussed the tribunal. They exchanged views on the tribunal to try the suspected killers of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and the Secretary-General spoke about the difficulties in setting it up, including finding a venue and providing security to the judges.

Asked whether President Bush had seemed committed to dealing with climate change, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General was encouraged by that aspect of their meeting, among others. She noted that the Secretary-General had also discussed climate change with non-governmental organizations, environmental leaders, religious leaders and others on Monday night, in what she called a major accomplishment of the trip.

Asked what advice the Secretary-General had given the President on Iraq, Montas said that the Secretary-General did not discuss the debate going on between the Administration and Congress about Iraq; rather, he talked about the role that the United Nations is playing in Iraq and his willingness to increase that role.

Asked about Bushs proposal for a Middle East meeting, the Spokeswoman said that the United States is the party making any arrangements for such a conference, but noted that including regional actors into the Middle East peace process is something that the Secretary-General has pushed for all along.

Asked whether the issue of whistleblowers came up during Ban Ki-moons talk with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Montas said the issue was raised once, and the Secretary-General said that the Ethics Office is to decide whether any complainant is a whistleblower.

U.N. MIDDLE EAST PEACE COORDINATOR BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

The Security Council is holding consultations this morning to discuss two reports on Lebanon that it received last week, which we have already flagged for you: the Secretary-Generals latest report on the implementation of resolution 1701, and the report of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team.

Council members received a briefing on those reports from the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Michael Williams. Mr. Williams just spoke to you at the stakeout following consultations.

Also, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno provided information on the work being done by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Also on Lebanon, the latest report by the International Independent Investigation Commission is out, and the head of that Commission, Serge Brammertz, will brief the Council on it tomorrow.

That report notes the consolidation of the Commissions information and analysis, which has produced 2,400 pages of reports. That consolidation effort has helped to identify a number of persons of particular interest who may have been involved in some aspect of the preparation and execution of the attack on Rafik Hariri or the other cases under investigation or who could have had prior knowledge that plans to carry out these attacks were under way.

U.N. LAUNCHES FLASH APPEAL FOR PAKISTAN FLOOD VICTIMS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched, this morning in Geneva, a $38 million Flash

Appeal to assist flood victims in Pakistan.

This Flash Appeal will cover the immediate needs of the estimated 2.5 million people who have been affected by the flooding. Projects will focus on shelter, water and sanitation, health, food security and early recovery activities.

John Holmes, the United Nations Emergency Coordinator, urged the world to respond generously to this appeal. He noted that it was still early in the monsoon season and said that, without quick action, the situation could deteriorate further.

BAN KI-MOON MEETS WITH DISARMAMENT ADVISORY BOARD

The Secretary-General met today with his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, which is an 18-member panel of experts who advise on disarmament, non-proliferation and security matters. All members of the Board are appointed by the Secretary-General, and this is Ban Ki-moons first meeting with them since he became Secretary-General.

It is also the first meeting of the Board at which the newly appointed High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Sergio Duarte, is participating. And the Secretary-General delivered prepared remarks, in which he calls for new ideas and initiatives to revive the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, especially with regard to nuclear issues. The existing stalemate on these life and death matters is simply unacceptable, he said.

During this session, Board members will discuss the Secretary-Generals reform proposals on ways to advance the disarmament agenda, and the issue of emerging weapons technologies, including implications for the use of outer space.

And by a recommendation by the High Representative for Disarmament Sergio Duarte, this session of the Board is chaired by Ambassador Lee Ho-jin, who is an Ambassador-at-Large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea and also the Boards longest-serving member from Asia.

U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY HEADS TO DARFUR

The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Darfur Jan Eliasson left Khartoum today to Nyala, in Darfur, where he will be meeting with representatives of internally displaced persons and civil society groups, UN Agencies and NGOs, as well as the local authorities.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that militia harassment continues to cause large new displacements throughout Darfur.

And a UNICEF-led study in different locations of Darfur showed a significant reduction of groundwater in one camp housing displaced persons in North Darfur, increasing malnutrition rates posing further serious challenge to humanitarian aid efforts, as well as an alarming mortality rate at one Therapeutic Feeding Centre.

And this week the UN Refugee Agency assisted the return of 150 refugees from Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. In all, more than 150,000 refugees have now been repatriated to Southern Sudan and the Blue Nile State.

Internally displaced persons are also being helped back by the use of air operations. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), some 300 individuals have already been flown back to Western Equatoria, and 1,300 additional IDPs are expected to benefit from air operations.

SECRETARY-GENERAL IS CONSULTING MEMBER STATES

ON POSTS CONCERNING AFRICA

In response to questions about the reported letter of the G-77, the Spokeswoman referred to the Secretary-Generals announcement of 6 July regarding the appointment of the High Representative for Least Developed, Landlocked Developing and Small Island States.

" I have nothing to add to what is contained in that announcement," she said.

"Please note, however, that it is the intention of the Secretary-General to consult Member States, and the Secretariat has been in communication with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on this matter. The Secretary-General obviously respects the views of Member States, and decisions to be made in due course will take these fully into account. Having said this, I am surprised to see that a letter on this matter, purportedly from Ambassador Akram to the Secretary-General, was shared with the press even before it had reached the Secretary-General. "

Asked when the Secretary-General had received the G-77 letter, the Spokeswoman said it was after the letter had been published.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals meetings, the Spokeswoman said he would meet with individual members of the Group of 77 and was consulting Member States.

Ultimately, she said, in response to questions about how the Secretary-Generals proposals on posts concerning Africa would proceed, the matter would require a decision by the General Assembly.

Asked about prior consultations between the Secretary-General and Member States, Montas said that the Secretary-General had held consultations beforehand on his intention to change the mandates concerning Africa.

U.N. NUCLEAR AGENCY CONFIRMS SHUTDOWN OF REACTORS IN DPR KOREA

Following the recent understanding reached between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, an IAEA team arrived at Yongbyon on 14 July to verify the shut down of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

The IAEA team has been able to confirm that five nuclear facilities have been shut down. The team applied the necessary seals and other measures as appropriate. The installation of the necessary surveillance and monitoring equipment by the IAEA team is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

The IAEA's verification activities are going smoothly with good cooperation from the DPRK, said IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. This is an important step in the right direction but only the first in a long journey.

IAEA OFFERS TO SEND EXPERTS TO JAPAN FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE

The IAEA has been closely following the situation at Japan´s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant following a powerful earthquake that occurred in the area on 16 July. Preliminary data indicates that the earthquake may have exceeded the seismic design assumptions for the plant.

The Agency believes a thorough investigation of the impact of the earthquake on the plant and full transparency in such investigations is required.

To this end, the IAEA expressed its readiness to assist Japan and is offering to send an international expert team to join Japan in assessing the event and its consequences.

INTRODUCTORY SUBMISSIONS FILED WITH CAMBODIA TRIBUNAL

Today, the Co-Prosecutors of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) filed their first Introductory Submission. An Introductory Submission contains facts that may constitute crimes, identifies people suspected to be responsible for those crimes and requests the Co-Investigating Judges to investigate those crimes and suspects.

Pursuant to their preliminary investigations, the Co-Prosecutors have identified and submitted for investigation 25 distinct factual situations of murder, torture, forcible transfer, unlawful detention, forced labour and religious, political and ethnic persecution, as evidence of the crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.

In support of their factual submissions, the Co-Prosecutors have transmitted more than 1,000 documents constituting more than 14,000 pages, including third party statements and/or written record of over 350 witnesses, thousands of pages of documentation from the era of Democratic Kampuchea and the locations of more than 40 undisturbed mass graves. These documents have all been digitalized and indexed in a database.

U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE ENVOY URGES ASIAN AND PACIFIC NATIONS

TO PROMOTE GROWTH WHILE CONTROLLING EMISSIONS

A UN-sponsored two-day meeting on response to climate change in the Asia-Pacific region opened in Seoul today. Participants from government, business, NGOs and academia are discussing ways to promote clean energy.

Han Seung-soo, one of the Secretary-Generals three Special Envoys on Climate Change, said the Asia and Pacific region must urgently identify an effective strategy to pursue economic growth while controlling its carbon dioxide emissions.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

FOOD AID SET TO BE DELIVERED TO SOMALIA: 5,000 tons of World Food Programme (WFP) and CARE food are set to be transported from Kenya into Somalia later this week. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes, however, that progressive deterioration of Somalias transport infrastructure is causing increased delays in goods reaching their final destination.

MORE THAN $200 MILLION OF HUMANITARIAN APPEAL FOR WEST AFRICA UNMET: OCHAs Mid-Year Review of the Humanitarian Appeal 2007 reveals $211 million in unmet requirements for West Africa, where 5 of the 10 poorest countries in the world are found. At the moment, only 38% of West Africa appeal has been funded, OCHA says.

U.N. IRAQ MEDIATORS MANDATE TO END NEXT MONTH: Asked about comments from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad concerning a mediator for Iraq, and the Secretary-Generals support for such a role, the Spokeswoman said she expected that the issue would come up in August when Special Representative Ashraf Qazis mandate ends, possibly with consideration of a larger mandate given to his successor.

PIRACY OFF SOMALI COAST ON FRONT BURNER: Asked about piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has discussed the issue with the head of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and it is on the front burner now.

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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