DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
23 February 1999
The following is a near verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by the Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Manoel de Almeida e Silva.
Good afternoon. As you know Fred Eckhard is not here today. He is with the Secretary-General in Washington.
**Secretary-General in Washington:
The Secretary-General left late this morning for Washington. Today's programme includes a lunch with Ambassador Rolf Ekeus. As you will recall, he is the former Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and currently the Swedish Ambassador to the United States. This afternoon he has a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and in the early evening he will address the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service on the future of United Nations peacekeeping. He will also receive the Trainor Award for Distinction in the Conduct of Diplomacy and attend a dinner in his honour sponsored by the President of Georgetown University.
**Secretary General's Georgetown Speech:
Upstairs we have copy of the speech he is giving tonight. It is embargoed until 6 p.m. and he is expected to touch on a wide range of themes, including the relationship between the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), peacekeeping in Africa, lessons learned from Rwanda, and the need for sufficient resources to launch a successful mission.
**Report of Cambodia Expert Group:
The Group of Experts for Cambodia, that was established in relation to General Assembly resolution 52/135, has submitted its report to the Secretary- General. The report evaluates existing evidence and what further measures might be taken in responding to past serious violations of Cambodian and international law, during the Khmer Rouge period.
**Deputy-Secretary-General in Washington:
Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette spoke this morning at the American University in Washington D.C. The Secretary-General and Ms. Fréchette probably crossed in the air. As he was flying down there, she was flying back to New York. She spoke at the invitation of the Center for Global South. Her talk focused on sustainable development in the broad sense and she catalogued some structural and other changes that the United Nations has made. These include partnerships with civil society and with business. Ms. Fréchette also set out some ideas and priorities for the future. The full text of her speech is available upstairs in our office.
**Former Yugoslavia Tribunal Letter to Kosovo Peace Talks:
The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, wrote a letter last evening to the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom and France, in which she expressed her concern about the fact that the text currently under consideration at the Kosovo Peace Talks at Rambouillet does not contain explicit requirement to cooperate with the Tribunal. She urged the two Foreign Ministers to use their influence as co-chairs of the peace talks not to allow this omission to happen. The text of the letter is available in our office upstairs.
**Displaced Persons in Kosovo:
Amid reports that the warring sides in Kosovo agreed in Rambouillet to continue negotiations on 15 March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that renewed fighting has driven some 9,000 people from their homes over the past three days in the worst wave of displacement this year. UNHCR in Pristina said the fighting continued today in an area about 25 kilometers northwest of the Kosovo capital. The UNHCR briefing note is available upstairs as well.
**Security Council Today:
The Security Council is meeting on several items this morning. First, the Council received a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ambassador Fernando Martin Valenzuela Marzo, on the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in that country. The Council is holding discussions on this matter right now.
Following that the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing by Carlos Westendorp, the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This will be followed by Tajikistan. The Council has before it a draft presidential statement, which is expected to be adopted today. Under other matters, the Council is expected to take up Eritrea/Ethiopia.
**Troop Contributors Meetings on UNPREDEP and Angola:
The closed consultations between Security Council members and troop contributors on UNPREDEP, which were scheduled for yesterday but postponed due to the day-long open meeting of the Council, took place this morning from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Another Security Council troop contributors consultation, this time on Angola, will be happening this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.
**Iraq: Weekly Update on Oil-for-Food Programme:
The latest weekly update on the implementation of the oil-for-food programme was released yesterday afternoon. It notes that since the Secretary-General's 29 December 1998 appeal for members of the Sanctions Committee on Iraq to review the status of contract applications for oil spare parts and equipment, holds have been lifted on 92 contracts, bringing the total of such contracts to 367 worth $208 million. The details of this report are available upstairs in our office in the latest update on the programme.
The Panel on Disarmament and Current and Future Ongoing Monitoring and Verification is meeting today in Conference Room 7. This is one of the three panels on Iraq, as you will recall. The Panel is expected to continue its work until 27 February.
For your information, for the record, the full text of the report by UNSCOM, the United Nations Special Commission, on the current state of affairs with respect to the disarmament of Iraq's proscribed weapons and ongoing monitoring and verification on Iraq, which was submitted to the Council on 25 January, has now been issued as a document. It was issued yesterday. It is available on the racks. For those of you who are looking for it, the symbol is S/1999/94.
**Special Rapporteur Back from the Democratic Republic of Congo:
It was announced in Geneva this morning that the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roberto Garreton, returned today to Geneva after having completed his mission to the country. Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, Mr. Garreton will hold a press conference in Geneva. We will make the summary of his press conference available here in New York as soon as possible tomorrow.
**Visit of Former Lebanese Prime Minister:
Also for the record, at the invitation of the Secretary-General, former Prime Minister Hariri of Lebanon paid a visit to United Nations Headquarters yesterday, and met with the Secretary-General for an exchange of views on the situation in the Middle East.
**Ottawa Landmines Treaty:
Again yesterday, Portugal became the 65th country to ratify the Ottawa landmine-ban treaty. So far, 131 countries have signed the treaty.
Two more countries paid their regular budget dues: El Salvador paid $124,000, and Ethiopia $62,000. So far, 46 Member States have paid in full this year.
**World Chronicle Television:
The World Chronicle TV programme today, to be shown at 2:30 p.m. on channels 6 or 38, will be with Hazem El-Beblawi, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
**Updating Spokesman's Media Contact List:
And finally, a housekeeping announcement. We, in the Spokesman's Office, are updating our list of phone and fax numbers for correspondents who want to be contacted over the weekend when we have a statement or the Security Council is meeting. Those of you who want to be contacted by us, please contact Betty Perry-Carpenter in our office, either in person or by phone on extension 3-7160. That will ensure that we have the right information for you.
Question: What is next for the Cambodia report? Will it be going to Phnom Penh?
Deputy Spokesman: The report was transmitted to the Cambodian Government yesterday.
Question: When is the Foreign Minister of Angola scheduled to meet with the Security Council?
Deputy Spokesman: Foreign Minister of Angola?
Correspondent: I saw him in the building.
Deputy Spokesman: I am not aware of his presence here. I don't know. Is he here? You saw him?
Question: Is there any comment from the Spokesman's Office on the latest allegations by Scott Ritter regarding the alleged CIA infiltration of UNSCOM very early on?
Deputy Spokesman: Not from us, but I suggest you contact UNSCOM directly. They would be prepared to talk to you.
Question: Just a follow up on the Cambodia report. So the Secretary- General has it now and simultaneously the Cambodian Government has it. What are the next steps?
Deputy Spokesman: The Secretary-General is studying the report, which was just delivered to him yesterday. For your information, the report was delivered yesterday. It is dated 18 February. He will decide shortly, as he studies it, what course of action will be taken, based on the information contained in the report.
Question: South Africa has announced that it is destroying all the surplus of small arms. Is any other country following the example of South Africa on small arms?
Deputy Spokesman: Off the top of my head, I don't have that information but we can look into that and let you know.
Question: By referring the question about UNSCOM to UNSCOM, are you actually saying that the Secretary-General is not concerned?
Deputy Spokesman: No. I am not saying that. I am saying that UNSCOM is an organ established by the Security Council, that it has its own regime. They would be the ones in the best position to comment on that.
Question: Is the Secretary-General concerned about the allegations?
Deputy Spokesman: You have seen this issue before. I do not want to get into this discussion again. It has been an issue in the past.
* *** *
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|