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15 March 1996

Press Briefing



Sylvana Foa, Spokesman for Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, began today's noon briefing by saying that the Secretary-General, at 4 p.m. Geneva time and 10 a.m. New York time, helped launch the $25-billion, 10-year United Nations Systemwide Initiative on Africa.

"In his speech, he said that the Initiative is intended as message to all Africans. 'We want to tell Africa that it is not alone, that it is not abandoned and that more than ever the eyes of the world are on it. I, myself, intend to make sure that our objectives are translated into reality in order to improve the daily lives of African men and women.' And turning to the international community, he said `I am not appealing to the generosity of the international community, I am appealing to its conscience'", Ms. Foa said.

She said that right after that satellite broadcast, which also went to Addis Ababa where there was a simultaneous launch, the Secretary-General had a meeting with Vladimir Petrovsky, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament.

Ms. Foa said that over the weekend the Secretary-General already had one publicly scheduled meeting on Sunday evening with Flavio Cotti, the Foreign Minister of Switzerland and current Chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

On Monday morning in Geneva, the Secretary-General would address the Commission on Human Rights and, on Tuesday, he would talk to the Conference on Disarmament, she said.

"Speaking of the Commission on Human Rights", she went on, "we have finally figured out how to pull things off the optical disk and we have available in our office now, the human rights reports on Burundi and East Timor. We'll try to have them available to you on a more timely basis. It just takes an awful long time to get them off something called an optical disk."

The Spokesman announced that the Secretary-General would be paying a visit to France next week. That official visit would begin on Thursday and he would be meeting with President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Herve de Charette. He would also give a speech to Institute Francais des Relations Internationales. While in France, he would also be meeting with Prime Minister Alain Juppe, who is also the mayor of Bordeaux, and would receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux.

She said that the monthly summary of troop contributions to peace- keeping operations was available in her office for interested correspondents. "Sorry it is a little bit late this month, but there had to be some corrections."

Referring to questions asked previously by correspondents about amounts owed to Member States for troops and contingent-owned equipment, Ms. Foa said that the figures for the period up to 31 December had been given to Member States through the High-Level Open-Ended Working Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations. Those figures represented the estimates of the United Nations for both troop costs and the cost of depreciation, mainly of equipment. Member States would now have to respond to those figures. "Evidently, what happens is that somebody brings us a tank or a vehicle. They say, `OK you've had this vehicle for six months and therefore, the cost of depreciation is $500,000 and United Nations people point out the old rust marks and start kicking the tires and they say 'Let's talk about this.' So this is now a negotiating process and is going along."

She said that the United Nations expected that the Member States would have finished responding to its estimates in April.

Ms. Foa said that the report by Carl Bildt, the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had been received and transmitted to the Security Council. It was the first report the High Representative had submitted to the Council through the Secretary-General in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement. It covered the period from the signing of the Peace Agreement on 14 December to the beginning of March. It was expected to be issued as a Security Council document on Tuesday.

"Basically, he is reporting that the separation of forces has been carried out successfully with the help of the Implementation Force (IFOR). However, he says that political developments surrounding the transfer of territory have been troubling. Three months after the peace agreement was signed, the forces of ethnic separation are still far stronger than the forces of ethnic reintegration. He is very worried about the lack of adequate funding for various civilian implementation efforts and is concerned about the political will of the parties to fully comply", she said.

Turning to the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), Ms. Foa said that the Security Council had written back to the Secretary- General noting that the mandate of UNMOP would continue in accordance with resolutions 1038. That meant that it would be extended for another three months and that its mandate would, therefore, end on 15 July. That document was out today.

On Sierra Leone, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Berhanu Dinka, reported this morning that the voting for the second round of the presidential election was going smoothly. There had been no

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major incidents and the ballots would close at about 6 p.m. local time. There were 30 international observers supported by the six-man United Nations electoral assistance team observing the elections. "We don't expect to get the results until early next week", she said. The results would be announced by James Jonah, who was heading the Interim National Electoral Commission.

Ms. Foa told correspondents that the Security Council was holding its open debate on the humanitarian situation in Somalia. The Secretary-General's Senior Political Adviser, Chinmaya Gharekhan, had briefed the Council earlier in the week. The number of speakers was quite large and was available in the Office of the Spokesman. People had not forgotten that Somalia was a country "we all invested a great deal in".

Turning to Angola, she said that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Alioune Blondin Beye, was going to open two new quartering sites today. He had opened two camps earlier in the week and two more today, she said. "So now we have a total of eight quartering sites throughout the country. However, there are very very few National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) soldiers being quartered this week. So far, a total of 17,373 have been quartered. Observers said the slow-down was due to the fact that UNITA was celebrating this week its thirtieth anniversary. That tells you how long we've had the Angola conflict around."

She reminded correspondents that earlier this week, the Security Council issued a statement calling on the Government of Angola and UNITA to expedite the implementation of the Lusaka Accords.

Asked if there had been any changes in the number of the IPTF civilian police (in the former Yugoslavia), Ms. Foa said that there were now a few more but the figure was still not up to the halfway point. There were 615 of them as at yesterday, as against the full figure of 1,721.

On the oil-for-food talks between the United Nations and Iraq, she said that the delegations were going to meet again today at 5 p.m. "I have asked them to alert us if we can expect anything and they have told us that they will issue the usual statements."

Asked if the delegations realized that it cost extra for the United Nations when they set the time of their meetings for after hours, Ms. Foa said that there was no overtime involved in the talks between the two delegations. There was no need for special interpretations, special lights or special recordings. "Those of us involved in this don't get overtime."

A correspondent referred to the Secretary-General's statement that he was not appealing to the generosity of the international community, but was appealing to its conscience on Africa, and asked if that meant that he had given up on Africa. Ms. Foa responded that that was not the case and that was why he was launching the Initiative. "What the Secretary-General means is,

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`This isn't a question of you guys being generous. This is a question of we have not done enough for Africa and we need to help out.'"

Another correspondent asked if anybody saw Judge Richard Golstone, Prosecutor of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, in the building yesterday. The Spokesman said that he was spotted and her office did make a confirmation that he was in the building, "but I don't think that we ever actually tracked him down. We made a few phone calls. If somebody is looking for him, let us know and we will make another effort today to track him down and see if he would like to talk".

Continuing, the correspondent said that many United Nations documents spoke about atrocities and war crimes against Serbs, yet nobody had been indicted. Did that mean that it was okay to carry out atrocities against Serbs, she asked. Ms. Foa said that the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was being as objective as possible and was working as fast as it could.

In response to a question regarding the money the United Nations owed to troop contributors, Ms. Foa said that the document was not a public one. It had been given to the high-level working group. "But I am sure we can help you with figures if you need them."

Asked to confirm that, regarding the Iraqi oil talks, there would be a statement issued at the end of day, but there would not a briefing by Hans Correl, Ms. Foa said, "Until the fat lady sings, we don't know what is going to happen. We will tell you at 5 o'clock that the talks are beginning and we will tell you at the end. There will be something." The talks were not stage-managed or rehearsed. She had not heard if there would be a meeting tomorrow.

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For information media. Not an official record.