The Middle East, Sierra Leone, the Democratic

Republic of Congo and other matters

 

              

                    Council members heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General, Annabi on

                    what they saw as a dangerous escalation across the blue line between Israel

                    and Lebanon established by the United Nations. They also expressed deep

                    concern at the recent violent action in the Gaza strip and surrounding areas.

                    In expressing their support for the statement issued by the Secretary-General

                    on 16 April Council members condemned this renewed cycle of violence that

                    has inflamed the already tense situation in the region. They called on all

                    parties to respect the blue line, to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain

                    from any action that would excaberate the situation further. They also insisted

                    on respect for Security Council resolutions 425 and 1337. Council members

                    will continue to follow the situation in the region very closely. And that was an

                    agreed press statement on behalf of the Security Council.

 

                    Deputy Secretary-General Fréchette gave an oral report on her recent visit to

                    Sierra Leone where she went beyond Freetown to Lunsar and elsewhere

                    where UNAMSIL is deployed. She can speak for herself in terms of her own

                    impressions of UNAMSIL and the current state of affairs in Sierra Leone, but it

                    was a very useful update for members of the Council and we will be coming

                    back to that subject in informal consultations on the 25th April with a further

                    briefing from the Secretariat.

 

                    The Council expressed warm appreciation for the hard work, and they said

                    explicitly the courage of the Expert Panel in working on drawing up and

                    expressing frankly in this report the views and the facts they presented.

                    Members of the Council have a unanimous desire to bring to an end the

                    illegitimate exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of

                    the Congo and there will be further work to be done, but very probably in an

                    open meeting of the Council, still to be arranged on a particular date because

                    they wish to hear the views of non-members of the Council concerned with

                    this question at that open meeting. So there will be follow-up work to be done

                    and I think we will continue to work with the Panel itself. So this is the

                    beginning of a series of discussions in the Council both informally and in the

                    open meeting, and so you can expect quite a lot of action over this spaced

                    out in time. It will not come to any conclusions today.

 

                    Q: Were there any reactions at all to the recommendations by the Panel,

                    particularly for sanctions against some of the several countries?

 

                    A: Only preliminary reactions, each member of the Council is speaking for its

                    own national position at this stage. The Council itself is a long way from any

                    conclusions on those recommendations.

 

                    Q: Can you comment on the recorded coup in Burundi, on the effect on the

                    peace process in that country and also on the Congo?

 

                    A: I intervened during the course of the morning to report on reports of events

                    in Bujumbura. Members of the Council were very concerned to hear those

                    reports. We have in recent discussions been calling for parties to turn away

                    from violence and to deal through dialogue with the implementation of the

                    Arusha Agreement. So I think we have only heard reports so far that are

                    disturbing, so we need confirmation of exactly what has happened. President

                    Buyoya was in any case out of the country, so that the Council is in watching

                    brief on that at this stage.

 

                    Q: Did you hear about the bomb that was set off in Kosovo in front of Yugoslav

                    Committee for Cooperation with UNMIK?

 

                    A: Yes, I had heard that there had been a bomb explosion in Pristina. It

                    seems to have been aimed at the office of the Serbs in Pristina, and we want

                    a further report on that and confirmation of exactly what has happened, but

                    that too has raised some concern.

 

                    Q: Will the Security Council address the concerns of the Expert Panel?

 

                    A: As I said earlier, the Council is going to have a series of discussions on

                    this. There are a number of recommendations in the Panel report of which we

                    might follow-up quite quickly, there are others which are going to need deep

                    consideration. We have got to hear the views of other parties concerned in

                    this and there are probably a number of further questions to be followed up.

                    So look upon this as the beginning of the process.

 

                    Q: The statement that you gave on the Middle East dealt primarily on the blue

                    line problem. What about the Palestinian/Israeli escalation?

 

                    A: The press statement I made this morning was agreed by the Council on

                    the basis of the briefing we had on the blue line violence, so I am not going

                    beyond that. I drew attention of the Council to the fact the Permanent

                    Observer of Palestine has put that point to the Council and it remains for the

                    Council to respond to that. n