5 September 2000

Press Release



The first meeting of the two Heads of State who will chair the Millennium Summit meeting at the United Nations -- Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland, and Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia -- will take place today, beginning at 4 p.m.. Accredited photographers and television camera crews are invited to a photo opportunity at 4 p.m. in the neck area adjacent to the Delegates Lounge of the United Nations.

Coming from a country of the North and of the South, the two leaders together personify the spirit of universality that is expected to guide the upcoming Millennium Summit, taking place 6 to 8 September at the United Nations and by current count involving 152 Heads of State or Government.

The co-chairs were selected by a ruling of the fifty-fourth United Nations General Assembly in March of this year. It was decided that the Millennium Summit would be presided over by the leaders of the countries of the Presidents of the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly (Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia) and of the fifty-fifth session (Mr. Harri Holkeri of Finland). The fifty-fourth session -- which began in the previous millennium -- closes today at a 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. meeting. The fifty-fifth session -- the Millennium Assembly -- opens at 3 p.m. today.

President Sam Nujoma was a hero of the struggle for Namibian independence. In 1960, he was elected President of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), and later served as Commander-in-Chief of SWAPO's armed forces as they challenged colonial rule in the territory which later became Namibia. He was sworn in as first President of the newly independent republic in 1990. Mr. Nujoma was re-elected to a third term in March 2000.

President Tarja Halonen is internationally recognized for her promotion of human rights and social security. She served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs during the Finnish presidency of the Council of Europe, and also as Minister of Social Affairs and Health, as Minister of Justice and as Minister in charge of gender equality. Ms. Halonen was elected President of the Republic of Finland in February 2000, and assumed office on 1 March.

For more information, contact Tim Wall at the United Nations Department of Public Information, telephone: 212-963-5851; or e-mail: wallt@un.org.

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