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US Iraq briefing key issue for Security Council

US briefing on Iraq among key issues for Security Council in February, President says

Click here for video of German UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger’s press conference.

4 February – Tomorrow's briefing by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell will be the first big event on the Security Council's calendar for the month of February, the President of the 15-nation body said today.

Speaking to reporters about the Council's work programme for the month, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany said 12 Foreign Ministers, along with the Permanent Representatives of Syria, Guinea and Angola, were expected to be on hand to hear Mr. Powell's extensive briefing, which will be accompanied by an audio-visual presentation.

Council members would then be invited to comment, Ambassador Pleuger said, noting that they will also address a request received from the Permanent Representative of Iraq to participate in the meeting. Provided that the Council decided to grant that request at Germany's proposal, the Iraqi representative would be invited to sit at the Council table and to make a statement at the end of the meeting, he added.

In highlighting a few other meetings of the Council, Ambassador Pleuger noted that Michael Steiner, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, is scheduled to give a briefing on Thursday and will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic of Yugoslavia.

On 13 February, the Council is slated to hear its monthly briefing by the UN Secretariat on the situation in the Middle East, and later that day hold an open briefing on the peacekeeping and human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sanctions, meanwhile, will be the topic of a public meeting scheduled for 25 February, during which the Swedish State Secretary is expected to present the results of the Stockholm process, which dealt with the question of smart sanctions, Ambassador Pleuger said.

Asked about future briefings by the heads of the UN weapons inspections regime for Iraq, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, Ambassador Pleuger said the trip this weekend to Baghdad by the two would be "a very important one." The report they are to give on 14 February would also be very vital. In the end, the Council will decide whether the inspections had been successful or whether there was a material breach, he added.

As to when the issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea might come before the Council, Ambassador Pleuger said that negotiations were ongoing to settle the problem diplomatically and he had not wished to disturb those. The Council had not been seized of that matter so far. When it came before the Council, it would come through the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had not yet made a report to the Council. When that happened, the Council would take a decision about putting it on the agenda.

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