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Muslims & others should not be misled by bin Laden

UN NEWS HEADLINES:
- Annan steps in to boost negotiations on anti-terror conventions
- Annan says Muslims and others should not be misled by bin Laden's statements
- In Iran, Brahimi says Afghans must determine their own future

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Annan steps in to boost negotiations on anti-terror conventions

5 November – Seeking to foster agreement on a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will hold talks with key negotiators in advance of the General Assembly's annual high level debate, according to the United Nations Legal Counsel.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in New York today, Legal Counsel Hans Corell said negotiations were largely complete but agreement was still outstanding on several key issues, including a definition of terrorism.

"The Secretary-General will follow this personally now, and the hope is of course that there might be a solution," said Mr. Corell, emphasizing that negotiations had so far been conducted in a "very positive atmosphere."

The Legal Counsel said Mr. Annan would hold discussions aimed at furthering the efforts of the working group which has been drafting the text. "The Secretary-General has decided to maintain the momentum before the [Assembly's] general debate here, so he will see some ambassadors this afternoon who represent countries who had key roles in the discussions in the working group," Mr. Corell said.

The need for a definition of terrorism has long been on the international agenda, according to Mr. Corell, who said the issue centres on "how to make clear the distinction between criminal acts under the heading of terrorism and criminal acts that belong to another regime of the law."

"All Member States will have to agree to have as precise a definition as possible so we can settle this matter, put it behind us, and agree that everybody now - all Member States - should join the fight against this scourge," he said.

The draft comprehensive convention, he explained, aims to "prohibit terrorist activities in all their forms and manifestations, and in particular to cover those offences which are outside the scope of the specialized conventions." The United Nations has already negotiated 12 anti-terrorism binding texts dealing with specific issues, such as hijackings or terrorist bombings.

"Ultimately, an important legislative act of this nature is a political matter," said Mr. Corell. "The lawyers, I think, have done as much as they can, so basically it has to be discussed at the political level."

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Annan says Muslims and others should not be misled by bin Laden's statements

5 November – Emphasizing the universal nature of the United Nations and its values, a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that Muslims should not be led astray by statements made by Usama bin Laden.

Asked about the Secretary-General's reaction to Mr. bin Laden's recent comments on the UN, spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said, "naturally he disagrees with it and hopes that Muslims and other people around the world will not be misled by it."

"The Secretary-General hopes they will understand that the United Nations is an expression of the will of all its members, the membership of the United Nations is universal, as are the principles enshrined in its Charter," the spokesman noted. "The United Nations does not represent any particular culture, or the views of any single Member State."

Mr. de Almeida e Silva stressed that the UN's decisions and actions "are those of Member States working together to pursue common goals based on shared values of equality, tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity."

The spokesman also drew attention to today's issue of the French newspaper Le Figaro, which carries an interview with Mr. Annan, in which he stresses that "it is an insult to the peoples of the third world to suggest that democracy and human rights are purely Western products."

"On the contrary, people in the developing countries understand more and more that these rights, which are economic, social and cultural as well as civil and political, are truly universal and must be realized for all people as an essential part of the development process," the Secretary-General is quoted as saying, in the interview, which was conducted last week.

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In Iran, Brahimi says Afghans must determine their own future

5 November – Holding three days of intensive consultations in Tehran, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, has emphasized that the Afghan people themselves must determine their future.

Mr. Brahimi, who arrived in Tehran on Saturday, met over the weekend with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi. In discussions with them, he stressed the importance supporting the Afghans without interfering in any way in their internal affairs.

During those talks, it was also agreed that the forthcoming UN General Assembly general debate in New York would be a good occasion to continue the discussions with all the neighbors of Afghanistan - both among themselves and with the UN.

As part of the dozen or so appointments that he had with some 40 people, Mr. Brahimi spoke to Hakimeh Barahman of the Iran News Network and Farzad Madadi of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation. When asked about the possibility of a return of former King Zahir Shah, the Special Representative replied, "I think we should leave it to the Afghans to decide who does what and who takes what position in the future Government."

"One of the problems that the Afghans have been suffering from is foreign interference, with countries deciding what should take place and what should not take place," the envoy stressed. "I hope that, in the future, we will help the Afghans but make sure that it is their will that is translated into reality."

Mr. Brahimi also met with a group of Afghan students active in cultural, social and political circles. One of them, 25-year old Sardar Muhammed Rahimi, said the UN should be more active in the present situation. "Afghanistan is experiencing the most critical period in its history and it will determine the future of our country," he told the envoy.

In reply, the envoy expressed the UN's readiness to help, but also reminded the students "only an Afghan solution will work."

Tomorrow, Mr. Brahimi is scheduled to meet with Iran's President, Hojjatol Islam Seyyed Mohamad Khatami.


ENDS

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