UN Radio: UN's Annan and USA's Bush Hold Talks
UN Radio: UN Secretary-General Holds Talks with President Bush
UN Secretary-General Holds Talks with President Bush
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in Washington today for talks with President George W. Bush. It is the first such meeting between the two leaders since the war in Iraq. Earlier on Monday, Mr. Annan spoke briefly to the press after meeting US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and expressed some hope that his discussions would be helpful to the Liberian peace process:
"I hope my discussions in Washington today will be helpful to the Liberian process and that in the not too distant future, the President will take a decision which I hope will bring happiness to lots of people in the region."
However outgoing White House spokesman, Ari Fleitscher, cautioned earlier that an announcement should not be expected today on President Bush's decision about an American-led peacekeeping mission to Liberia. The two leaders - who are just back from separate trips to Africa - will discuss the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, the UN's role in Iraq, and the Road Map for the Middle East.
Security Council Discusses Gradual UN Troop Pull-Out from Sierra Leone
The UN Security Council has been holding discussions today on proposals for the gradual withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Sierra Leone. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has presented the Council with three options for the withdrawal or drawdown of the thirteen thousand troops currently working with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone. UN spokeswoman, Hua Jiang, says the Secretary-General favours a total withdrawal by December next year:
"The Secretary-General recommends that the Council adopt the third option, ending the UN presence in Sierra Leone by December 2004."
Other options presented to the Council were a complete withdrawal by June next year or a withdrawal by June 2005.
UN Deputy Secretary-General says UN Must Attract Best International Staff
The Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Louise Frechette, has called for the implementation of human resources policies that make UN staff mobile, motivated and multi-skilled. Ms. Frechette told the 57th session of the International Civil Service Commission meeting in New York that the current pay and benefits system of the UN did not contribute to improved performance or more effective management. She added that UN bodies were no longer competitive in the international labour market and she called on the International Civil Service Commission to come up with proposals that would enable the UN to recruit the best international staff.
UN Mission in Burundi Seeks End to Rebel Attacks
The United Nations Mission in Burundi says it is working to secure a ceasefire as Hutu rebels of the National Liberation Front, FNL, continue their attacks on the capital Bujumbura. Nearly 200 people have been killed and many more injured in the capital since last week when the rebels started attacking the city. The UN envoy to Burundi, Nur El-din Satti, says there has been a lull in the attacks today:
"I think we are having an impact because we have been talking. Of course we have been in contact with the rebel groups and impressing on them that they should cease their attacks. And other partners of course have been doing the same thing and I think our collective effort might have paid off and that they have listened to the voice of reason."
The situation in Burundi has compelled the US State Department, for example, to ask all its non-emergency staff to leave Burundi.
UN Special Rep for Iraq Hails the Formation of Governing Council
The UN Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has described the formation of a governing council for Iraq as a historic event. Speaking at the inauguration of the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad on Sunday, Mr. De Mello said freedom, dignity, and security must not be taken for granted. UN spokeswoman, Hua Jiang, says the Special Representative called on the members to be courageous:
" He told the 25 members that the Secretary-General commended the members of the Governing Council for the courage they were demonstrating in assuming this heavy responsibility."
Mr. de Mello added that the creation of the Council marked "the first major development towards the restoration of Iraq's rightful status as a fully sovereign state."