Consultations on Burundi and Afghanistan

 

 

                    In informal consultations this morning, we started by noting the tragic

                    shooting and killing of a Russian soldier in Kosovo yesterday, 11 April. The

                    Council wanted to express, and did express, their regrets and condolences to

                    the delegation of the Russian Federation and also condemned this act of

                    violence against the peacekeepers in Kosovo, and were very interested in an

                    investigative follow-up and in action be taken against the perpetrators of that.

                    That was a sad note to start our briefing this morning.

 

                    We then got into Afghanistan with a very short brief from the Secretariat on

                    one or two questions raised recently by members of the Council. We did not

                    get into a briefing on Afghanistan as a whole or a discussion. The

                    Secretary-General is due to give us a report on Afghanistan next week and

                    there will be a debate in informal consultations on Afghanistan later next

                    week, so it was a very curtailed discussion on that.

 

                    Thirdly, we talked about Burundi. We had a very full report from Sir Kieran

                    Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on current

                    developments in Burundi on the basis also of a quite useful factual briefing

                    paper from the Secretariat for members of the Council. The Council wanted

                    me to make a number points to the media about that.

 

                    The Council wanted to express its support very clearly for the facilitation by

                    former President Mandela which is continuing and for the efforts by regional

                    leaders to support that facilitation. Members of the Council called on the

                    signatories to the Arusha Agreement to pursue efforts aimed at dialogue

                    reflecting the spirit of the Arusha Agreement and to refrain from any action

                    that might comprise progress already made and might contribute to a further

                    deterioration of the situation on the ground, which remains quite worrying.

                    They also called on the armed rebel groups who are not yet signatories to the

                    Arusha Agreement to cease violence which is continuing in Burundi and to

                    pursue dialogue aimed at the cessation of hostilities. And they supported and

                    indeed encouraged regional leaders and the signatories themselves to

                    back-up this message to the armed rebel groups to put down their weapons

                    and enter the process of dialogue. That is an important ancillary point to our

                    appeal to the signatories themselves.

 

                    Members of the Council condemned the recent acts of violence that have

                    occurred on the ground in Burundi, which include attacks on humanitarian

                    workers and on convoys. Most recently a WFP convoy was attacked. And in

                    condemning those attacks they urged the parties to observe international

                    humanitarian law, to allow access for humanitarian workers to those who need

                    assistance, and to refrain of course from the kind of vicious attacks that we

                    have witnessed in recent days.

 

                    The Council will be following up on Burundi over the coming weeks, and I think

                    that there will be an interest when we take a mission to the Great Lakes to

                    maintain our particular focus on this issue.

 

                    Q: Was there a logic behind the decision of the Council to stay entirely out of

                    the Chinese/US affairs following the detention of the air crew? Did China and

                    the United States express to you that they had no desire to see this issue

                    taken up in the Council, or was this your own decision to stay out of it?

 

                    A: It has not been discussed in the Council at all, and there has been no

                    approach by either government to the Security Council to take this matter up.

 

                    Q: On the Afghanistan briefing, could you tell us what the briefing covered?

                    We understand that perhaps a possible sanctions violation was raised.

 

                    A: There was no mention of any particular sanctions violations. Nor were any

                    detailed points taken up.