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