UN On Iraq And East Timor
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
The following are extracts from a near-verbatim transcript of Friday's noon briefing by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General:
On Tuesday, we told you that the United Nations would be investigating allegations made by the Iraqi Government against a New Zealand national, Ian Broughton, also known as Red, who was said to have planted boxes of locust eggs in northern Iraq.
The results of the investigation indicate that neither Broughton nor any other person connected to the United Nations was in the area in question. The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, told Iraqi officials that this could have been a case of mistaken identity, but they insisted that Broughton should leave the country. He left the country this morning.
Speaking from Amman, the Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, expressed disappointment at the incident. He had been in Iraq on a 20-day mission and, while there, he had told government officials that he would like to visit the site where the locust eggs were allegedly planted, but there was no response to this suggestion.
We have a note in our Office with more details on the matter.
Still on Iraq, today we have out on the racks the Secretary-General's letter to the President of the Security Council regarding the requirements of Iraq's oil industry and also with a report from the group of experts who visited Iraq last month.
It is a detailed and technical report, but, in general, it emphasizes the need of the oil industry to receive spare parts and equipment in order to sustain and increase current production which is now averaging slightly over 2 million barrels a day.
Also, later today, the office of the Iraq programme will make available their weekly report which shows that last week Iraq exported 14.3 million barrels of oil.
This afternoon, there will be a troop-contributors meeting on East Timor. In relation to this, you will find on the racks a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council listing the countries that will contribute military liaison officers to the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).
Still on East Timor, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said today she was deeply worried by recent attacks by armed militia on the United Nations Mission and the negative effects the violence could have on the exercise by the East Timorese of their right to decide their future. She said, "The violence aims clearly at keeping the East Timorese from exercising their right to determine the status of the territory. The Indonesian authorities must make good on their pledge to investigate the attacks and bring to justice those responsible. The militia must not be allowed to succeed." The full text of her statement is available in room S-378.
Also available upstairs is the transcript of the press briefing today in Dili which would gives you the details of deployment of military observers and all other categories of staff of the Mission, and also indications of the arrival of the election kits in Dili.
Question: On Iraq, why did the New Zealander, though innocent, leave the country? What does that say about United Nations cooperation with Iraq, for example, a team that is supposed to go there shortly?
Deputy Spokesman: Our investigations did not confirm the allegations. Coincidentally, his contract was concluding, so he was leaving in a few weeks anyway.
Question: What kind of investigation did the United Nations conduct to discover that this man was innocent?
Deputy Spokesman: That's in a note that I mentioned is available to you. They talked to Mr. Broughton himself and the staff that were supervised by him on 8 April. None of them were in the area that the incident allegedly occurred. The person was in Iraq, but not in the place where the boxes were said to be planted.
Question: Western diplomats regard this incident involving Mr. Broughton as an attempt to create a scapegoat since Iraq does not like United Nations staff particularly in northern Iraq. Does the United Nations regard it this way?
Deputy Spokesman: We're certainly concerned that allegations were made, we investigated, we didn't confirm those allegations and they insisted on the measures that they took. It is a matter of concern about the quality of this relationship.