Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Thursday, 2 August 2007

KILLING OF KOREAN HOSTAGES IN AFGHANISTAN

The South African government joins the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in condemning the killing of two of the hostages from the Republic of Korea held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The South African government extends heartfelt condolences to the family of the victims and to the Korean people.

We remain deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of the 21 Korean hostages, the German national and the four Afghans, who are still being detained.

We urge those who have kidnapped these nationals to release their hostages.

The South African government fully supports the Afghan authorities in their continuing efforts to ensure the safe return of all those being held against their will.

CLIMATE CHANGE

South Africa agrees with the United Nations Security Council that the effects of climate change are already grave, and they are growing. The Security Council has noted that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average. The resultant melting threatens the region's people and ecosystems, but it also imperils low-lying islands and coastal cities half a world away. On the other hand, as glaciers retreat, water supplies are being put at risk. And, for one third of the world's population living in dry lands, especially those in Africa, changing weather patterns threaten to exacerbate desertification, drought and food insecurity.

This is significant in light of comments by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator on Tuesday 24 July 2007 regarding food security in the SADC region: "There are great worries of severe malnutrition if we don't act now," Mr. Holmes said of the crisis in the Southern African country, hardest hit by a drought that has also severely affected Lesotho, Zimbabwe and parts of Mozambique. "The crisis has not yet struck, but we can see it coming because of the very poor harvest and the drought," he added during a Headquarters press conference on humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East.

He explained that Swaziland had suffered its worst recorded harvest, which was endangering about 400,000 people in a situation exacerbated by high HIV-infection rates and the vulnerability of many young orphans. "I very much hope that donors will respond generously to the flash appeal and indeed to the separate flash appeal we'll be launching for Lesotho."

The Government of Swaziland had declared a national emergency and pledged $23.6 million in assistance, he said. The flash appeal would add $15.6 million in immediate aid for the next few months, in efforts kicked-started by $3 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for life-saving food and agricultural programmes. Relief priorities in Swaziland would be food and agricultural help, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation, in addition to livelihood protection in the longer term.

Food crisis in Lesotho

The UN is appealing for US$18.9 million to feed more than 500,000 rural people struggling to cope with food shortages in one of Lesotho's worst droughts in 30 years.

Production of maize, the country's staple food, has dropped by more than half compared to 2006, "causing a deficit that is likely to be further aggravated by decreased cereal production in parts of South Africa, which has also experienced below-average rainfall for much of this year, and which supplies approximately 70 percent of Lesotho's food requirements," according to the UN flash appeal document.

The assistance will therefore focus on rebuilding sources of income, such as providing subsidised agricultural inputs for farmers and promotion of home gardens.

About 82 percent of Lesotho's 1.8 million people live in rural areas and agriculture is the main source of income for 60 percent of the population.

Aid workers fear that the drought will aggravate the underlying causes of acute malnutrition and vulnerability: persistent food insecurity, poor access to sanitation, poor household childcare and hygiene practices, and poor healthcare at household and community levels.

"Wasting in children under five has surpassed the international threshold of five percent for declaring a situation of concern, reaching six percent this year from 2.4 percent in 2006," the appeal document noted. According to the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF), drought-related acute malnutrition is expected to peak in late 2007 and early 2008.

We cannot go on this way for long. We cannot continue with business as usual. The time has come for decisive action on a global scale.

South Africa believes that we need a comprehensive agreement under the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)] process that tackles climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies, deforestation and resource mobilization.

South Africa welcomes the initiative by the United Nations Secretary-General to convene a high-level meeting on climate change in New York at the start of the new General Assembly session that will be attended by Minister Dlamini Zuma. We hope we will be able to add value to this process.

South Africa will intensify efforts to build political momentum in preparation for the Bali conference and the broader UNFCCC process.

The gravity of the situation has prompted the Secretary-General to appoint three Special Envoys on Climate Change. Mrs. [Gro Harlem] Brundtland, Mr. Han [Seung-soo] and Mr. [Ricardo] Lagos [Escobar].

The Secretary-General has launched a "Greening the UN" initiative. He has invited all heads of agencies and other UN bodies to work with him on a comprehensive plan covering worldwide premises and operations of the United Nations.

Launch of US$40 million grant from Central Emergency Response Fund
The Central Emergency Response Fund on Wednesday 1 August 2007 announced a grant of $40 million from the world body's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide life-saving support in 16 so-called forgotten crises around the world.

"These grants will provide vital funding for people caught up in some of the world's most neglected humanitarian crises," said John Holmes, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and manager of the CERF. "By filling gaps in the international response we aim to ensure that assistance will reach those most in need."

The largest recipients of the new funds will be the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the occupied Palestinian territory, Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire and the Central African Republic (CAR).

The countries selected for grants face severe ongoing emergencies, against a backdrop of protracted humanitarian needs and low levels of funding, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

This is the fourth such disbursement since the launch of the landmark fund in March 2006. Managed by OCHA, it aims to speed up relief operations for humanitarian emergencies and make funds available quickly after a disaster, when people are most at risk.

CERF funding for aid programmes is made available within 72 hours in emergencies, allowing UN agencies on the ground to provide immediate assistance.

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Another issue that is linked to that of climate change is that of the Millennium Development Goals. As you know, we are halfway between the 2000 Millennium Declaration and 2015 which was set as a deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

MDG Report 2007

The results achieved in the more successful cases demonstrate that success is possible in most countries, but that the MDGs will be attained only if concerted additional action is taken immediately and sustained until 2015. All stakeholders need to fulfil in their entirety, the commitments they made in the Millennium Declaration and subsequent pronouncements.

The following are some measures of the progress that has been achieved:

  • The proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from nearly a third to less than one fifth between 1990 and 2004. If the trend is sustained, the MDG poverty reduction target will be met for the world as a whole and for most of the regions.
  • The number of extremely poor people in sub-Saharan Africa has levelled off, and the poverty rate has declined by nearly six percentage points since 2000. Nevertheless, the region is not on track to reach the Goal of reducing poverty by half by 2015.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: what is significant and has been highlighted in many of our briefings is that there has been a tendency for developed countries to make commitments and neglect to follow them up with action. The report does say that while progress has been made more can be achieved if developed countries honour their commitments]

 

  • Progress has been made in getting more children into school in the developing world. Enrolment in primary education grew from 80% in 1991 to 88% in 2005. Most of this progress has taken place since 1999.
  • Women's political participation has been growing, albeit slowly. Even in countries where previously only men were allowed to stand for political election, women now have a seat in parliament.
  • Child mortality has declined globally, and it is becoming clear that the life-saving interventions are proving effective in reducing the number of deaths due to the main child killers - such as measles.
  • Key interventions to control malaria have been expanded.
  • The tuberculosis epidemic, finally, appears on the verge of decline, although progress is not fast enough to halve prevalence and death rates by 2015.

By pointing to what has been achieved, these results also highlight how much remains to be done and how much more could be accomplished if all concerned live up fully to the commitments they have already made. Currently, only one of the eight regional groups cited in this report is on track to achieve the MDGs. In contrast, the projected shortfalls are most severe in sub-Saharan Africa. Even regions that have made substantial progress including parts of Asia, face challenges in areas such as health and environmental sustainability. More generally, the lack of employment opportunities for young people, gender inequalities, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, deforestation, increasing water scarcity, and high HIV prevalence are pervasive obstacles.

Moveover, insecurity and instability in conflict and post-conflict countries make long-term development efforts extremely difficult. In turn, a failure to achieve the MDGs can further heighten the risk of instability and conflict. Yet, in spite of a technical consensus that development and security are mutually dependent, international efforts all too often treat them as independent from one another.

The following are some of the key challenges that have to be addressed:

  • Over half a million women still die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The odds that a woman will die from these causes in sub Saharan Africa are 1 in 16 over the course of her lifetime, compared to 1 in 3800 in the developed world.
  • If current trends continue, the target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The number of people dying from AIDS worldwide increased to 2.9 million in 2006 and prevention measures are failing to keep pace with the growth of the epidemic. In 2005, more than 15 million children had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
  • Half the population of the developing world lack basic sanitation. In order to meet the MDG target, an additional 1.6 billion people will need access to improved sanitation over the period 2005-2015. If trends since 1990 continue, the world is likely to miss the target by almost 600 million people.
  • To some extend, these situations reflect the fact that the benefits of economic growth n the developing world have been unequally shared. Widening income inequality is of particular concern in Eastern Asia, where the share of consumption of the poorest people declined dramatically between 1990 and 2004.
  • Most economies have failed to provide employment opportunities to their youth, with young people more than three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.
  • Warming of the climate is now unequivocal. Emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary contributor to global climate change, rose from 23 billion metric tons in 1990 to 29 billion metric tons in 2004. Climate change is projected to have serious economic and social impacts, which will impede progress towards the MDGs.

This report also points to disparities within countries where particular groups of the population - often those living in rural areas, children of mothers with no formal education and the poorest households - are not making enough progress to meet the targets, even where the rest of the population is. This is particularly evident in access to health services and education. In order to achieve the MDGs countries will need to mobilise additional resources and target public investments that benefit the poor.

In particular, impressive results have been achieved in sub-Saharan Africa in areas such as raising agricultural productivity (in Malawi for example), boosting primary school enrolment (as in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), controlling malaria (as in Niger, Togo, Zambia and Zanzibar), widening access to rural health services (Zambia), reforesting areas on a large scale (Niger) and increasing access to water and sanitation (Senegal and Uganda). These practical successes now need to be replicated and scaled-up.

With support from the United Nations, many developing countries - particularly in Africa - have advanced in preparing strategies to achieve the MDGs. As of mid-2007, 41 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had started the process of preparing national development strategies aligned with the MDGs and other development goals agreed upon through the United Nations. During this mid-point year, the international community needs to support the preparation of these strategies and to accelerate implementation of the MDGs.

Success in achieving the MDGs in the poorest and most disadvantaged countries cannot be achieved by these countries alone. Developed countries need to deliver fully on longstanding commitments to achieve the official development assistance (ODA) target of 0.7% of gross national income by 2015. It requires, in particular, the Group of 8 Industrialised nations to live up to their 2005 pledge to double aid to Africa by 2010 and European Union Member States to allocate 0.7% of gross national income to ODA by 2015. In spite of these commitments, ODA declined between 2005 and 2006 and is expected to continue to fall slightly in 2007 as debt relief declines.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: what this indicates is that commitments are made but that these are reflective of debt relief and includes very little new money to enable the poorest countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.]

Aid has to be improved by ensuring that assistance is aligned with the policies that recipient countries have adopted, and that flows to individual countries are continuous, predictable and assured and are not tied to purchases in the donor country. To this end, donors should reduce the present unpredictability of aid by providing multi-year schedules of aid flows to each recipient country. One of the uses of the additional resources should be to multiply, within and across countries, the number of "quick impact" initiatives that have proven their efficacy over the last few years.

As a further element of their development partnership, and as agreed to in Doha in 2001, all governments should redouble their efforts to reach a successful and equitable conclusion to the present trade negotiations - an outcome that ensure that the international trading system and global trading arrangements become more conducive to development in all developing countries.

Addressing the challenge of climate change has to be a new but integral element of each country's development strategy. More importantly, however, it should become an enhanced part of the international development agenda: All development partners should collaborate intensively in devising a shared global strategy to address this global problem.

The lack of political will and failure to implement decisions is clearly reflected in the address by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the United Nations on 31 July 2007:
Millennium Development Goals - the goals the world has set are not being met and we face an emergency - a developmental emergency - and we need emergency action if we are to meet them.

But seven years on it is already clear that our pace is too slow; our direction too uncertain; our vision is at risk.
The world did not come together in New York in 2000, come together again in Doha in 2001, in Johannesburg and Monterrey in 2002, in Gleneagles and New York in 2005 and Heiligendamm in 2007 to make, re-make and reaffirm promises, for us then to break them.

We cannot allow our promises that became pledges to descend into just aspirations, and then wishful thinking, and then only words that symbolise broken promises.

I want us to call an emergency meeting next year at which we report on where we are and what we have to do.

In the coming year we must turn these renewed commitments into immediate action. We must agree in the autumn to a global trade deal that delivers for the poor and not just the rich; we must in Bali, in December, agree the outline for a bold climate plan and at the G8 in Japan in July 2008 we must deliver on the promises we made on aid and debt.

I accept an immediate obligation on world leaders to address protectionism and work to make what we promised - the development trade round - happen this year.

It is urgent that heads of government stand ready to break the deadlock, using all our resources of leadership. In recent days I have talked to Chancellor Merkel, President Barroso, Prime Minister Socrates and President Lula, President Mbeki and Prime Minister Singh, as well as Pascal Lamy.

The same sentiments are expressed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his address to ECOSOC (2 July 2007)
All of you have before you my analytical report for the Ministerial Review, as well as The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, which is being launched right here, right now. This report is the result of a broad interagency effort spearheaded by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. It shows that progress towards the Development Goals has been slow in some of the world's poorest countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. However, its main message remains encouraging: the Millennium Development Goals remain achievable in most countries, but only if political leaders take urgent and concerted action.

Countries in Africa and elsewhere are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress on the MDGs is possible. As this weeks national presentations on implementation experiences will show, it flows from strong Government leadership and sound governance good policies. It requires practical strategies for scaling up investments in key areas. And it needs adequate financial and technical support from the international community.

I cannot stress strongly enough the need for developed nations to keep their promises. They have to meet the 0.7 per cent official development assistance target. Today, I urge donors to issue timelines for scaling up aid to reach their target commitments by 2010 and 2015.
As they do so, they must also address the disparities in the global trade regime, which handcuff so many developing nations. The world desperately needs a successful conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations. Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities -- and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world.

The time to convert existing promises into actual progress is now. We must convert the "global partnership for development" into more than a catchy slogan, and turn it into fact, so as to address the most pressing development issues of our day, from climate change to trade and aid. By acting now, we can still deliver by the 2015 deadline.

ECOSOC

The annual four-week substantive session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - which has been tasked with two new functions this year - concluded in Geneva on Friday 27 July 2007, with its President welcoming the revitalized and reformed Council's progress.

The Council adopted a ministerial declaration by consensus, which signaled the its unanimity in addressing the obstacles to the achievement of the MDGs, especially concerning the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and the development of a global partnership for development:

Ministerial Declaration of the High Level Segment submitted by the President of the Council on the basis of informal consultations
We, the Ministers and Heads of Delegation participating in the High-Level segment of the substantive session of 2007 of the Economic and Social Council held in Geneva from 2-5 July 2007,

Having considered the theme of the annual ministerial review, "Strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development", the report of the Secretary-General on the subject and the contributions made leading up to and during the High Level Segment,

Having also considered the theme "Strengthening efforts at all levels to promote pro-poor sustained economic growth, including through equitable macro-economic policies", the report of the Secretary-General on the subject and the contributions made during the high-level segment,

Reaffirming the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals,

Recalling the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, including the development goals and objectives contained therein, and recognising the vital role played by these conferences and summits in shaping a broad development vision and in identifying commonly agreed objectives, which have contributed to improving human life in different parts of the world,

Reaffirming that development is a central goal in and of itself and that sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental aspects constitutes a key element of the overarching framework of United Nations activities,

Recognising that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing,

Reaffirming that gender equality and the promotion and protection of the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all are essential to eradicate poverty and hunger,

Reiterating that eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and that it is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development in particular for developing countries,

Recognising that while globally extreme poverty is declining at a notable rate, progress has been uneven, and that at the same time the number of people living in extreme poverty continues to increase in some countries, particularly in the least developed countries and in sub-Saharan Africa,

Remaining concerned that many countries in Africa are currently not on track to achieve any of the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration by 2015 and in this regard emphasizing that concerted efforts and continued support are required to fulfil the commitments to address the special needs of Africa,

Recognising that empowerment of the poor is essential for the effective eradication of poverty and hunger,

Recognising also that rural areas of developing countries continue to be home to the vast majority of the world's poor people, whose livelihoods depend to a large extent on agriculture,

Reaffirming the commitments to the global partnership for development as set out in the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation,

Have adopted the following declaration:

1. We welcome the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council, the holding of the first annual ministerial review, including the voluntary national presentations made by Bangladesh, Barbados, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Ethiopia and Ghana, and the launch of the Development Co-operation Forum.

2. We invite all countries to consider making voluntary national presentations at future ministerial reviews.

3. We also welcome the holding of the Civil Society Development Forum at Geneva from 28 - 30 June

4. We reiterate our resolve to strengthen our efforts to eradicate the scourges of poverty and hunger and to make that goal the central priority of national development strategies and international development co-operation.

5. We recognise that sustained economic growth is essential for eradicating poverty and hunger, in particular in developing countries. We commit ourselves to promoting sustained economic growth in developing countries and recognise that national efforts in this regard should be complemented by an internationally enabling environment.

6. We reiterate that the eradication of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, particularly as they affect children, is crucial for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and that rural and agricultural development should be an integral part of national and international development policies. In this regard, we call for increased productive investment in rural and agricultural development to achieve food security and for enhanced support for agricultural development and trade capacity-building in the agricultural sector in developing countries.

7. We emphasise that, inter alia, increasing access, through national action and international support, to safe drinking water, basic sanitation, energy, universal education, health care and social protection will reduce both inequality and poverty.

8. We reiterate the importance of taking measures at all levels to strengthen the development of non-agricultural sectors, in particular medium-sized, small and microenterprises.

9. We also reiterate our strong support for fair globalisation and the need to translate growth into reduction of poverty and in this regard resolve to make the goals of full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women and young people, a central objective of relevant national and international policies as well as national development strategies, including poverty reduction strategies, as part of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

10. We call for promotion and facilitation of, as appropriate, access to and the development, transfer and diffusion of technologies, including new and advanced environmentally sound technologies and corresponding know-how, to developing countries.

11. We call on all countries to adopt strategies for reducing urban poverty, call on the United Nations system and other relevant organisations to support developing countries in this regard and invite the international financial institutions to support those efforts, as appropriate.

12. We reaffirm our commitment to prioritise actions and allocate resources to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in al countries and agree to undertake measures to provide malnourished people with increased access to food.

13. We reiterate that al countries should promote gender equality and empowerment of women and, as called for, inter alia, in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, identify and accelerate actions towards that end.

14. We recognise that microfinance, including microcredit, can make an important contribution to poverty eradication and the empowerment of the poor, including through programmes that could facilitate productive slef-employment, promote gender equality and reduce the social and economic vulnerability of the poor. We encourage all countries to facilitate the expansion of microfinance, including microcredit, in order to service the large unmet demand among poor people for financial services.

15. We resolve to intensify our efforts towards the goal of universal access to HIV prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010, enhanced access to affordable medicines, reduction of the incidence of tuberculosis by half by 2015 and reduction of the large number of deaths from malaria and other infectious diseases, including through increased resources; and in this regard we welcome the commitment by the Group of Eight to increase funding to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, including the strengthening of health systems, to 60 billion dollars in the coming years. We also resolve to continue efforts to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and strengthen health-care systems to help us meet the needs of our populations in all spheres of health, including sexual and reproductive health.

16. We emphasize the critical role of both formal and informal education in the achievement of poverty eradication and other development goals as envisaged in the Millennium Declaration, in particular basic education and training for eradicating illiteracy, and strive for expanded secondary and higher education as well as vocational and technical training, especially for girls and women, the creation of human resources and infrastructure capabilities and the empowerment of those living in poverty.

17. We reaffirm out commitment to achieve the goal of sustainable development including through the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. To that end, we commit ourselves to undertaking concrete actions and measures at all levels and to enhancing international cooperation, taking into account the Rio principles. These efforts will also promote the integration of the three components of sustainable development - economic development, social development and environmental protection - as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars. Poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development.

18. We recognise the negative impact of environmental degradation and climate change on sustainable development in al countries, especially developing countries in particular the least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries.

19. We recall the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the acknowledgement that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions.

20. We reaffirm that responses to climate change should be coordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner, with a view to avoiding adverse impact on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty.

21. We look forward to measures to address climate change within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the third session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, to be held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007. We also look forward to the Secretary-General's high-level event, which is to take place in New York on 24 September 2007.

22. We reiterate the need to fully implement the global partnership for development and to enhance the momentum generated by the 2005 World summit in order to operationalise and implement, at all levels, the commitments in the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits, including the 2005 World Summit, in the economic, social and related fields and stress that all countries should promote policies coherent and consistent with those commitments, including those systemic in nature.

23. We reaffirm our commitment to sound policies, good governance at all levels and the rule of law, and to mobilising domestic resources, attracting international flows, promoting international trade as an engine for development, increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development, sustainable debt financing and external debt relief and enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems.

24. We also reaffirm that each country must take primary responsibility for its own development and that the role of national policies and development strategies cannot be overemphasised in the achievement of sustainable development. We also recognise that national efforts should be complemented by supportive global programmes, measures and policies aimed at expanding the development opportunities of developing countries, while taking into account national conditions and ensuring respect for national ownership, strategies and sovereignty.

25. We reiterate that in our common pursuit of growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development, a critical challenge is to ensure the necessary internal conditions for mobilising domestic savings, both public and private, sustaining adequate levels of productive investment and increasing human capacity. A crucial task is to enhance the efficacy, coherence and consistency of macroeconomic policies. An enabling domestic environment is vital for mobilising domestic resources, increasing productivity, reducing capital flight, encouraging the private sector and attracting and making effective use of international investment and assistance. Efforts to create such an environment should be supported by the international community.

26. We acknowledge efforts by developed countries to increase resources for development, including commitments by some developed countries to increase official development assistance. We note with concern, however, the overall decline in official development assistance in 2006 and call for the fulfilment of all official development assistance commitments, including the commitments by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance by 2015 and to reach at least 0.5 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance by 2010, as well as the target of 0.15 per cent to 0.20 per cent for the least developed countries, and urge those developed countries that have not yet done so to make concrete efforts in this regard in accordance with their commitments.

27. We welcome the efforts by some developed countries, which are on target to meet the commitments made in terms of increased official development assistance.

28. We also welcome recent efforts and initiatives to enhance the quality of aid and to increase its impact, including the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and resolve to take concrete, effective and timely action in implementing all agreed commitments on aid effectiveness, with clear monitoring and deadlines, including through further aligning assistance with countries' strategies, building institutional capacities, reducing transaction costs and eliminating bureaucratic procedures, making progress on untying aid, enhancing the absorptive capacity and financial management of recipient countries and strengthening the focus on development results.

29. We resolve to ensure that existing commitments of additional external resources for sub-Saharan Africa are fully implemented in order to promote achievement of the Millennium Development goals in that region.

30. We call for the full, timely and effective achievement of the goals and targets of the Brussels Programme of Action, the Almaty Programme of Action, the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy to address the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

31. We emphasize the need to support the smooth transition strategy for countries graduating from the list of least developed countries, in accordance with the smooth transition strategy for countries graduating from the list of least developed countries.

32. We reaffirm the commitments made in the Doha Ministerial Declaration, the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration and the decision of the General Council of the world Trade Organization of 1 August 2004 to meaningfully integrate the developing and the least developed countries into the multilateral trading system and call for the successful and timely completion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, with the full realization of the development dimensions of the Doha Work Programme.

33. We call for the early conclusion and successful development-oriented outcome of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, adhering fully to the agreed mandate in the Doha Ministerial Declaration, within the framework adopted by the General Council of the World Trade Organization in its decision of 1 August 2004, and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.

34. We call upon all countries to promote good governance, which is essential for sustainable development, and reaffirm that sound economic policies, solid democratic institutions responsive to the needs of the people and improved infrastructure are the basis for sustained economic growth, poverty eradication and employment creation and that freedom , peace and security, domestic stability, respect for human rights, including the right to development, the rule of law, gender equality, market-oriented policies and an overall commitment to just and democratic societies, are also essential and mutually reinforcing.

35. We resolve to pursue good governance and sound macroeconomic policies at all levels and to support developing countries in their efforts to put in place the policies and investments to drive sustained economic growth, promote small and medium-sized enterprises and employment generation and stimulate the private sector.

36. We reaffirm that good governance at the international level is fundamental for achieving sustainable development, that in order to ensure a dynamic and enabling international economic environment it is important to promote global economic governance through addressing the international finance, trade, technology and investment patterns that have an impact on the development prospects of developing countries and that, to that end, the international community should take all necessary and appropriate measures, including ensuring support for structural and macroeconomic reform, a comprehensive solution to the external debt problem and increasing the market access of developing countries.

37. We also reaffirm the commitment to broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in international economic decision-making and norm-setting, stress, to that end, the importance of continuing efforts to reform the international financial architecture, noting that enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the Bretton Woods institutions remains a continuous concern, and call in this regard for further and effective progress.

38. We call for measures at all levels to promote pro-poor growth in a sustained manner and underline in this regard the need for equitable microeconomic policies.

39. We recognise that poverty and inequality are a concern for all countries regardless of their level of development. We also recognise that middle income countries still face significant areas of poverty and that efforts to address those challenges should be supported.

40. We acknowledge the vital role the private sector can play in promoting economic growth and eradicating poverty and hunger by generating new investments, employment and financing for development.

41. We recognise the role that public-private partnerships can play in our efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, the need to ensure that their activities conform fully with the principle of national ownership of development strategies and the need for effective accountability and transparency in their implementation.

42. We acknowledge the critical role of the public sector in promoting sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty and hunger.

43. We renew our commitment to continuing to discuss innovative mechanisms for financing for development. We acknowledge the progress made in this area and invite countries to consider contributing in this regard.

44. We recognise, in this regard, the value of developing innovative sources of financing from various sources on public, private, domestic and external bases in order to increase and supplement traditional sources of financing.

45. We request the Economic and Social Council to consider reviewing its existing mechanisms and, where needed, to take appropriate action to ensure effective review and implementation of the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.

46. We look forward to our continuing engagement, within the renewed and strengthened Economic and Social Council, to advancing the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: the essence of all this is that developed countries are beginning to understand that they cannot sustain their development if they do not take concrete action to increase poverty aid to the developing countries.]

It is in this regard that the Africa- European Union Dialogue is becoming increasingly important.

AFRICA - EUROPEAN UNION DIALOGUE

The Ghana Summit did deal with this matter and indicated that it would be an important opportunity for Africa to clearly put its views on the developmental agenda to its European Union partners.

African Union Foreign Ministers, at their meeting preceding the Summit in July 2007 in Accra, Ghana:
1. TAKES NOTE of the Report on Africa-European Union (EU) Dialogue;

2. WELCOMES the consultations undertaken with various stakeholders leading to the finalization of the outline for the Joint Africa-EU Strategy;

3. ADOPTS the Outline for the Joint Africa-EU Strategy as a basis for the elaboration of a fully-fledged Joint Strategy and Action Plan to be adopted at the December, 2007 Lisbon Africa-Europe Summit;

4. URGES the Africa-EU Ministerial Troika and the Experts to expedite the elaboration of the Joint Strategy and Action Plan as part of Lisbon Summit documentation;

5. APPRECIATES the progress made in preparations for the Africa-EU Summit to be held in Portugal in December 2007, and that all African countries and the African Union (AU) Organs would be invited without conditions, to participate in the Summit;
[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: In view of this point that all countries will be invited to participate in the Summit, I do hope we will be able to put to rest any questions of whether some countries will be invited or not.]

6. URGES all African Countries and the AU Organs to fully participate in the Summit;

7. ENDORSES the convening of a joint ministerial meeting to prepare adequately for the Lisbon Summit and WELCOMES in this regard the offer by the Arab Republic of Egypt to host the meeting in November 2007;

8. REQUESTS the Chairperson of the Commission to ensure that the Agenda of the Summit takes into account Africa's development needs including agriculture and food security;

9. SUPPORTS the forthcoming launching of the Africa-EU Partnership on Infrastructure and REQUESTS the Commission to take all necessary measures to ensure good participation of African stakeholders at this important event.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: a ministerial meeting will be held in Egypt in November 2007 to prepare for the Summit. We believe that the new Africa - European Union Strategic Plan will lead to the formulation of an Africa Action Plan. Given what has been said by Prime Minister Brown and our own views, we hope we will this time get a plan of action that can be implemented and that will allow us to achieve our developmental agenda.]

SUDAN

The South African government welcomes the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of the resolution on the Hybrid force for Darfur which will allow for the deployment of a 26000 strong joint African Union - United Nations force.

Some key points:

  • It authorises and mandates the establishment of an AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
  • Back-stopping, command and control structures for the hybrid operation will be provided by the United Nations.
  • Emphasizes the Addis Ababa agreement that the Hybrid operation should have a predominantly African character.
  • Stresses the urgent need to mobilise the financial, logistical and other support and assistance required for AMIS, whose mandate is extended for a period of six months until 31 December 2007.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: you must understand that although a decision has been taken and adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council, the UN processes will take time until the hybrid force can be operationalised.]

 

  • Preparation for deployment of UNAMID shall begin not later than October 2007, including an operational capability, management and command and control structures.
  • UNAMID shall also establish financial arrangements to cover troop's costs for all personnel deployed to AMIS, not later than October 2007. UNAMID shall also prepare to assume operational command authority over the Light Support Package, Heavy Support Package, personnel currently deployed to AMIS and other hybrid personnel deployed by that date.
  • UNAMID shall monitor whether any arms or related material are present in Darfur in violation of the agreements and the measures imposed by Resolution 1556 (2004).
  • Acting under Chapter VII, the resolution gives UNAMID powers to take necessary action in areas of its deployment of it forces as it deems within its capabilities in order to protect its personnel, facilities, installations and equipment; and ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel and humanitarian workers.

UN Secretary-General Urges all Parties to Remain Engaged, as Security Council Authorizes Deployment of United Nations-African Union Mission in Sudan
Following statement is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's statement on the adoption of the resolution on the hybrid force for Darfur, in New York today, 31 July:

I am honoured to address the Security Council after its adoption of this historic and unprecedented resolution.

By authorizing the deployment of a hybrid operation for Darfur, you are sending a clear and powerful signal of your commitment to improve the lives of the people of the region, and close this tragic chapter in Sudan's history.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: I believe this indicates the beginning of more systematic and strengthened co-operation between the African Union and the United Nations.]

Today's resolution is the culmination of serious and painstaking collaboration within the Security Council. I commend you for your efforts. The adoption is also the result of sincere and intensive cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.

As we open this new chapter, I pay tribute to the men and women of the African Union Mission in the Sudan, who have given their all in the service of peace -some paying the ultimate price.

We must now move forward, in all haste, to build on their work. We must put in place the complex and vital peacekeeping operation which you have authorized today.

The Council is familiar with the administrative, logistical and serious operational challenges that must be overcome to establish the hybrid. We must dedicate ourselves fully to deploying a mission which will make a clear and positive difference in the lives of the people of Darfur. They have a right to expect nothing less.

Preparations for the operation have been under way since early this year. Today's resolution will give even greater momentum to our efforts. If we are to meet the ambitious goal established by the resolution, and assume authority in Darfur by the end of the year, the Council must remain engaged. Member States must provide every support -- especially troop- and police-contributing countries.

Additional capable troops must be committed. Support systems must be put in place. Command structures must be established. National Governments know from their own experience that this takes time, but time is not on our side.

Equally fundamental will be the unequivocal and continuous support of the Government of Sudan. If the Government is not a good-faith partner in this initiative, the operation will fail. We have the same expectation of the rebel movements.

As we recognize the importance of today's resolution and redouble our collective efforts to strengthen peacekeeping in Darfur, we must also acknowledge that it is only through a political process that can we achieve a sustainable solution to the conflict.

The Special Envoys of the United Nations and the African Union have stepped up their efforts, and will be meeting with the parties in Arusha later this week. It is crucial that the Arusha meeting yield positive results, so as to pave the way for negotiations and, ultimately, a peace agreement. Only in this way can we end the violence and destruction that have afflicted Darfur for more than three years.

We will build peace through negotiations for a political settlement, and sustain peace on the ground with our peacekeepers. I look forward to working closely with you, the members of the Council, with the African Union and with all Governments concerned, as we advance towards our shared goal.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad: Given the positive assessment by the United Nations Secretary General, it is difficult to understand why some forces are intensifying the campaign for sanctions against the Government of Sudan. Such positions are counterproductive and do not enhance the processes underway.]

Darfur Peace Agreement

Special envoys of the African Union and United Nations will tomorrow Friday 3 August 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania meet with signatories and non-signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Security Council Authorizes Deployment of United Nations-African Union 'Hybrid' Peace Operation in Bid to Resolve Darfur Conflict
The Security Council authorized on Tuesday 31 July 2007 the deployment of a 26,000-strong joint United Nations-African Union force this afternoon, in an attempt to quell the violence in Sudan's western Darfur region.

The full text of resolution 1769 (2007) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,

"Recalling all its previous resolutions and presidential statements concerning the situation in Sudan,

"Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Sudan, and to the cause of peace, and expressing its determination to work with the Government of Sudan, in full respect of its sovereignty, to assist in tackling the various problems in Darfur, Sudan,

"Recalling the conclusions of the Addis Ababa high-level consultation on the situation in Darfur of 16 November 2006 as endorsed in the communiqué of the 66th meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union held in Abuja on 30 November 2006 as well as the communiqué of 79th meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on 22 June 2007, recalling the statement of its President of 19 December 2006 endorsing the Addis Ababa and Abuja agreements, welcoming the progress made so far and calling for them to be fully implemented by all parties without delay and for all parties to facilitate the immediate deployment of the United Nations Light and Heavy Support packages to the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) and a Hybrid operation in Darfur, for which back-stopping and command and control structures will be provided by the United Nations, and recalling that co-operation between the UN and the regional arrangements in matters relating to the maintenance of peace and security is an integral part of collective security as provided for in the Charter of the United Nations,

"Re-affirming also its previous resolutions 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, 1502 (2003) on the protection of humanitarian and United Nations personnel, 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict and the subsequent conclusions of the Security Council Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict pertaining to parties to the armed conflict in Sudan (S/2006/971), and 1674 (2006) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, as well as recalling the report of its Mission to Addis Ababa and Khartoum from 16 to 17 June 2007,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission of 5 June 2007,

"Commending in this regard the agreement of Sudan that the Hybrid operation shall be deployed in Darfur, as detailed in the conclusions of the high-level AU/UN consultations with the Government of Sudan in Addis Ababa on 12 June 2007 and confirmed in full during the Council's meeting with the President of Sudan on 17 June in Khartoum,

"Recalling the Addis Ababa Agreement that the Hybrid operation should have a predominantly African character and the troops should, as far as possible, be sourced from African countries,

"Commending the efforts of the African Union for the successful deployment of AMIS, as well as the efforts of member states and regional organisations that have assisted it in its deployment, stressing the need for AMIS, as supported by the United Nations Light and Heavy Support Packages, to assist implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement until the end of its mandate, calling upon the Government of Sudan to assist in removing all obstacles to the proper discharge by AMIS of its mandate; and recalling the communiqué of the 79th meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union of 22 June to extend the mandate of AMIS for an additional period not exceeding six months until 31 December 2007,

"Stressing the urgent need to mobilise the financial, logistical and other support and assistance required for AMIS,

"Welcoming the ongoing preparations for the Hybrid operation, including the putting in place of logistical arrangements in Darfur, at United Nations Headquarters and the African Union Commission Headquarters, force and police generation efforts and on-going joint efforts by the Secretary General and the Chairperson of the African Union to finalise essential operational policies, and further welcoming action taken so that appropriate financial and administrative mechanisms are established to ensure the effective management of the Hybrid,

"Re-iterating its belief in the basis provided by the Darfur Peace Agreement for a lasting political solution and sustained security in Darfur, deploring that the Agreement has not been fully implemented by the signatories and not signed by all parties to the conflict in Darfur, calling for an immediate ceasefire, urging all parties not to act in any way that would impede the implementation of the Agreement, and recalling the communiqué of the second international meeting on the situation in Darfur convened by the African Union and United Nations Special Envoys in Tripoli from 15-16 July 2007,

"Noting with strong concern on-going attacks on the civilian population and humanitarian workers and continued and widespread sexual violence, including as outlined in the Report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the Hybrid Operation in Darfur and the report of the Secretary-General of 23 February 2007, emphasising the need to bring to justice the perpetrators of such crimes and urging the Government of Sudan to do so, and reiterating in this regard its condemnation of all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur,

"Reiterating its deep concern for the security of humanitarian aid workers and their access to populations in need, condemning those parties to the conflict who have failed to ensure the full, safe and unhindered access of relief personnel to all those in need in Darfur as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance, in particular to internally displaced persons and refugees, and recognising that, with many citizens in Darfur having been displaced, humanitarian efforts remain a priority until a sustained ceasefire and inclusive political process are achieved,

"Demanding that there should be no aerial bombings and the use of United Nations markings on aircraft used in such attacks,

"Reaffirming its concern that the ongoing violence in Darfur might further negatively affect the rest of Sudan as well as the region, stressing that regional security aspects must be addressed to achieve long-term peace in Darfur, and calling on the Governments of Sudan and Chad to abide by their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement of 8 February 2006 and subsequent bilateral agreements,
"Determining that the situation in Darfur, Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,

"1. Decides, in support of the early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the outcome of the negotiations foreseen in paragraph 18, to authorise and mandate the establishment, for an initial period of 12 months, of an AU/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) as set out in this resolution and pursuant to the report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission of 5 June 2007, and further decides that the mandate of UNAMID shall be as set out in paragraphs 54 and 55 of the report of the Secretary General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission of 5 June 2007;

"2. Decides that UNAMID, which shall incorporate AMIS personnel and the UN Heavy and Light Support Packages to AMIS, shall consist of up to 19,555 military personnel, including 360 military observers and liaison officers, and an appropriate civilian component including up to 3,772 police personnel and 19 formed police units comprising up to 140 personnel each;

"3. Welcomes the appointment of the AU-UN Joint Special Representative for Darfur Rodolphe Adada and Force Commander Martin Agwai, and calls on the Secretary-General to immediately begin deployment of the command and control structures and systems necessary to ensure a seamless transfer of authority from AMIS to UNAMID;

"4. Calls on all parties to urgently facilitate the full deployment of the UN Light and Heavy Support Packages to AMIS and preparations for UNAMID, and further calls on member states to finalise their contributions to UNAMID within 30 days of the adoption of this resolution and on the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to agree the final composition of the military component of UNAMID within the same time period;

"5. Decides that:
(a) no later than October 2007, UNAMID shall establish an initial operational capability for the headquarters, including the necessary management and command and control structures, through which operational directives will be implemented, and shall establish financial arrangements to cover troops costs for all personnel deployed to AMIS;

(b) as of October 2007, UNAMID shall complete preparations to assume operational command authority over the Light Support Package, personnel currently deployed to AMIS, and such Heavy Support Package and hybrid personnel as may be deployed by that date, in order that it shall perform such tasks under its mandate as its resources and capabilities permit immediately upon transfer of authority consistent with sub-paragraph (c) below;

(c) as soon as possible and no later than 31 December 2007, UNAMID having completed all remaining tasks necessary to permit it to implement all elements of its mandate, will assume authority from AMIS with a view to achieving full operational capability and force strength as soon as possible thereafter;

"6. Requests the Secretary General to report to the Council within 30 days of the passage of this resolution and every 30 days thereafter, on the status of UNAMID's implementation of the steps specified in paragraph 5, including on the status of financial, logistical, and administrative arrangements for UNAMID and on the extent of UNAMID's progress toward achieving full operational capability;

"7. Decides that there will be unity of command and control which, in accordance with basic principles of peacekeeping, means a single chain of command, further decides that command and control structures and backstopping will be provided by the United Nations, and, in this context, recalls the conclusions of the Addis Ababa high level consultation on the situation in Darfur of 16 November;

"8. Decides that force and personnel generation and administration shall be conducted as set out in paragraphs 113-115 of the report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission of 5 June 2007, and requests the Secretary-General to put in place without delay the practical arrangements for deploying UNAMID including submitting to the General Assembly recommendations on funding and effective financial management and oversight mechanisms;

"9. Decides that UNAMID shall monitor whether any arms or related material are present in Darfur in violation of the Agreements and the measures imposed by paragraphs 7 and 8 of resolution 1556 (2004);

"10. Calls on all Member States to facilitate the free, unhindered and expeditious movement to Sudan of all personnel, as well as equipment, provisions, supplies and other goods, including vehicles and spare parts, which are for the exclusive use of UNAMID in Darfur;

"11. Stresses the urgent need to mobilise the financial, logistical and other support required for AMIS, and calls on member states and regional organisations to provide further assistance, in particular to permit the early deployment of two additional battalions during the transition to UNAMID;

"12. Decides that the authorised strength of UNMIS shall revert to that specified in resolution 1590 (2005) upon the transfer of authority from AMIS to UNAMID pursuant to paragraph 5(c);

"13. Calls on all the parties to the conflict in Darfur to immediately cease all hostilities and commit themselves to a sustained and permanent ceasefire;

"14. Demands an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks on AMIS, civilians and humanitarian agencies, their staff and assets and relief convoys, and further demands that all parties to the conflict in Darfur fully co-operate with AMIS, civilians and humanitarian agencies, their staff and assets and relief convoys, and give all necessary assistance to the deployment of the United Nations Light and Heavy Support Packages to AMIS, and to UNAMID;

"15. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations:
(a) decides that UNAMID is authorised to take the necessary action, in the areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities in order to:
(i) protect its personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel and humanitarian workers,
(ii) support early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, prevent the disruption of its implementation and armed attacks, and protect civilians, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan;

(b) requests that the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the Government of Sudan conclude within 30 days a status-of-forces agreement with respect to UNAMID, taking into consideration General Assembly resolution 58/82 on the scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and General Assembly resolution 61/133 on the Safety and Security of Humanitarian Personnel and the Protection of United Nations Personnel, and decides that pending the conclusion of such an agreement the model status-of-forces agreement dated 9 October 1990 (A/45/594) shall provisionally apply with respect to UNAMID personnel operating in that country;

"16. Requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to achieve actual compliance in UNAMID with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, including the development of strategies and appropriate mechanisms to prevent, identify and respond to all forms of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, and the enhancement of training for personnel to prevent misconduct and ensure full compliance with the United Nations code of conduct, and to further take all necessary action in accordance with the Secretary-General's Bulletin on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13) and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including the conduct of pre-deployment awareness training and, in the case of forces previously deployed under AU auspices, post-deployment awareness training, and to take disciplinary action and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;

"17. Calls on all concerned parties to ensure that the protection of children is addressed in the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure continued monitoring and reporting of the situation of children and continued dialogue with parties to the conflict towards the preparations of time-bound action plans to end recruitment and use of child soldiers and other violations against children;

"18. Emphasises there can be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur, welcomes the commitment expressed by the Government of Sudan and some other parties to the conflict to enter into talks and the political process under the mediation, and in line with the deadlines set out in the roadmap, of the United Nations Special Envoy for Darfur and the African Union Special Envoy for Darfur, who have its full support, looks forward to these parties doing so, calls on the other parties to the conflict to do likewise, and urges all the parties, in particular the non-signatory movements, to finalise their preparations for the talks;

"19 Welcomes the signature of a Joint Communiqué between the Government of Sudan and the United Nations on Facilitation of Humanitarian Activities in Darfur, and calls for it to be fully implemented and on all parties to ensure, in accordance with relevant provisions of international law, the full, safe and unhindered access of relief personnel to all those in need and delivery of humanitarian assistance, in particular to internally displaced persons and refugees;

"20. Emphasises the need to focus, as appropriate, on developmental initiatives that will bring peace dividends on the ground in Darfur, including in particular, finalising preparations for reconstruction and development, return of IDPs to their villages, compensation and appropriate security arrangements;

"21. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council for its consideration no later than every 90 days after the adoption of this resolution on progress being made on, and immediately as necessary on any obstacles to:
(a) the implementation of the Light and Heavy Support Packages and UNAMID,
(b) the implementation of the Joint Communiqué between the Government of Sudan and the United Nations on Facilitation of Humanitarian Activities in Darfur,
(c) the political process,
(d) the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the parties' compliance with their international obligations and their commitments under relevant agreements, and

(e) the ceasefire and the situation on the ground in Darfur;
"22. Demands that the parties to the conflict in Darfur fulfil their international obligations and their commitments under relevant agreements, this resolution and other relevant Council resolutions;

"23. Recalls the reports of the Secretary-General of 22 December 2006 (S/2006/1019) and 23 February 2007 (S/2007/97) which detail the need to improve the security of civilians in the regions of eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic, expresses its readiness to support this endeavour, and looks forward to the Secretary-General reporting on his recent consultations with the Governments of Chad and CAR;

"24. Emphasises its determination that the situation in Darfur shall significantly improve so that the Council can consider, in due course and as appropriate, and taking into consideration recommendations of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union, the drawing down and eventual termination of UNAMID;

"25. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

World Food Programme Aid being hampered in Darfur
We are very concerned at comments by the WFP of a dramatic escalation in attacks on humanitarian staff and food convoys in Darfur, which are hampering WFP's ability to deliver assistance to millions of hungry people in the strife-torn region of Sudan.

"In the last two weeks, nine food convoys have been attacked by gunmen across Darfur," said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Sudan Representative.

"WFP staff and contractors are being stopped at gunpoint, dragged out of their vehicles and robbed with alarming frequency," he said.

Oshidari called on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers so that the UN food agency and other aid organisations can continue with their life-saving work.

"These abhorrent attacks, which target the very people who are trying to help the most vulnerable in Darfur, must be brought under control," he added.

So far this year, 18 WFP food convoys have been attacked by gunmen and four of WFP's light vehicles carjacked. Six WFP vehicles, including trucks and light vehicles, have been stolen and 10 staff, including contractors, have been either detained or abducted.

Due to a lack of security, WFP was not able to reach 170,000 people in June, a sizeable increase from the lowest point last March when 60,000 could not be reached. As a result of convoy attacks in recent weeks, the road between Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, and the town of Kass, has been declared a "no-go" area for UN staff.

In north Darfur, food dispatches to the town of Kabkabiya have been affected. UN security personnel say attacks on vehicles are now the number one security concern for the aid community in Darfur.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The South African government is deeply concerned at the deteriorating security situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular North and South Kivu. Serious humanitarian consequences of violent actions of foreign armed groups, in particular the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), and military activities of the "mixed" brigades, are being carried out under the leadership of General Nkunda.

We are concerned at the continued threat that the foreign and Congolese armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo pose to the local population and security in the region. These groups must lay down their arms and engage voluntarily and without preconditions in their demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration, as appropriate.

South Africa urges the mixed brigades and their commanders to integrate into the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and to stop recruiting activities. We condemn the recruitment of children in violation of applicable international law.

Text of the United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement
"The Security Council invites the Government to develop in close coordination with the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) a global plan to ensure security in the eastern part of the country, particularly by making further progress in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of Congolese combatants, and the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of foreign combatants, and by ending impunity, promoting reconciliation, social cohesion, recovery and development in the region. It notes with concern the significant number of internally displaced persons, and emphasizes the need to reassure the population and promote effective State administration in the region. The Council welcomes the intention of the Congolese authorities to facilitate an inclusive dialogue in the Kivus, and looks forward to its implementation.

"The Security Council encourages MONUC to continue, in conformity with its mandate, to support the FARDC integrated brigades with a view to disarming recalcitrant foreign and Congolese armed groups in order to ensure their participation in the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process, as appropriate. It encourages the Congolese authorities to develop, in close consultation with MONUC, the necessary planning to that end, and stresses that any operation that may require MONUC's support should be jointly planned with it and in accordance with international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. The Council requests the Secretary-General to keep it informed of this planning process. It also underlines the importance of continued efforts by MONUC, in implementing its mandate, to provide protection to civilians and contribute to the improvement of the security conditions in which humanitarian assistance is provided.

"The Security Council strongly encourages the Government to carry out the reform of the security sector nationwide as a matter of priority, by pursuing its efforts to consolidate the reform of the police and to integrate the armed forces. In this context, the Council acknowledges the concerted efforts of the Government and its partners towards convening a national round table on security sector reform, scheduled for October in Kinshasa.

"The Security Council expresses its deep concern about the recruitment of combatants, including children in violation of applicable international law, inside and outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially by forces loyal to Laurent Nkunda.

"The Council urges the neighbouring States concerned to further facilitate the effective reintegration of returning former combatants and to prevent all recruiting activities within their territories. The Council recognizes that good regional relations, in particular relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, are an important factor in solving the crisis in the Kivus. It encourages both Governments to continue to cooperate to solve their common security concerns, to improve their diplomatic relations and to support the voluntary return of refugees, in consultation with the High Commissioner for Refugees.

"The Security Council encourages MONUC, in conformity with its mandate, to assist the Government, including through the provision of good offices, in its efforts to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the Kivus through promoting reconciliation and political dialogue."

UN evacuates staff from eastern DRC

The United Nations evacuated dozens of staff Wednesday 1 August 2007 from a remote east Democratic Republic of Congo town after mobs of stone-throwing protesters angry over the possible return of refugees from a minority ethnic group ransacked UN and other humanitarian agencies there.

Four unarmed UN military observers were wounded in the violence and flown by helicopter from the Lake Tanganyika town of Moba along with 30 civilian UN personnel by a contingent of Bangladeshi troops, said Major Gabriel de Brosses, a spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in DRC.

The protesters, angry over rumors of the return of ethnic DRC Tutsis, or Banyamulenge, looted a house used by the UN observers and wrecked the offices of the UN refugee agency and other aid groups, de Brosses said.

De Brosse said soldiers from DRC's army fired shots in the air to disperse a crowd of around 1 000 people.

A battalion of Bangladeshi peacekeepers was deployed to Moba "and right now the situation is under control," de Brosses said.

Bemba not ready to return to DRC

Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba will not return to his homeland for the time being even though his leave of absence from the country's Senate expired at midnight on Tuesday 31 July 2007, his spokesperson said.

The Senate, of which he is a member, granted millionaire Bemba a 60-day leave of absence, which it later extended to July 31 on his request in mid-June. Bemba promised then to return to Democratic Republic of Congo as long as he received security guarantees.

"Jean-Pierre Bemba will not come back to the country today or tomorrow, and no new date is yet scheduled," his spokesperson Moise Musangana said on Tuesday.

Musangana said on Monday Kabila's office had not responded to requests for security guarantees for Bemba, who leads the country's political opposition as head of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), which grew from his rebel army

"If the president of the MLC returns under the present conditions it could be dangerous for him," he said.

Kabila's presidency declined official comment on Bemba's possible return. A presidential advisor who declined to be named said: "He is a bandit. He must come and answer for his actions."

It was unclear whether Bemba would face any penalty from the Senate for overstaying his leave of absence, as parliament is in recess and not due to reconvene until September 15.

"If he does not come back by September, we will need to examine whether his absence is justified or not," Senator Ngongo Luwowo said.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

The South African government welcomes the "flame of peace" ceremony held on Monday 30 July 2007 to officially launch the disarmament process by setting fire to weapons handed over by rebels.

President Laurent Gbagbo declared the war in Côte d'Ivoire over when he and rebel leader turned Prime Minister Guillaume Soro as Gbagbo set foot in the north for the first time since rebels occupied it in 2002.

"The war is over," President Gbagbo told some 25,000 people in the Bouake Municipal Stadium on 30 July, calling on the crowd to repeat the phrase. "May all Ivorians stand up and shout it with me. The war is over." Soro said Gbagbo's presence in Bouake, the former-rebel stronghold, "seals the reunification of the country".

In the same breath as his proclamation that the war has ended, President Gbagbo said the government will now take on organising long-overdue presidential elections.

President Mbeki joined the Presidents of Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Benin and representatives for Angola, Ghana, Niger, Senegal and the international community at this ceremony.

A brigade of the 37th Battalion was named after President Mbeki, to mark the role played by South Africa in general and the President in particular to bring about a resolution to the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, in Yamassoukro.

SOMALIA

UN, international partners to step up contacts with reconciliation body in Somalia
On the 31st July 2007, a UN led a delegation, headed by the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Per Lindgarde, and included representatives from Norway, Sweden, Italy, Yemen and Egypt, visited Mogadishu, over the weekend to attend and receive an update on Congress's ongoing work and progress towards national reconciliation.

The delegation expressed its intention for members of the international community to have henceforth a frequent presence at the Congress.

The delegation also met with representatives of the Transitional Federal Government (TGF) and with the Hawiye Council.

BURUNDI

Withdrawal of the Paliphehutu-FNL from the JVMM
The South African government joins the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in expressing deep concern by the withdrawal of Palipehutu-FNL on Saturday 21 July 2007 from the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement signed by the Government of Burundi and FNL in September 2006.

We urge the FNL to resume its participation in the JVMM without delay.

It is clear that patience is running out and that we cannot continue to sustain such effort and resources when it does seem that the Paliphehutu-FNL does from time to time become an obstacle to the process.

The Secretary-General commended the efforts of the South African Facilitation, the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi, and the African Union aimed at bringing the Burundi peace process to a successful conclusion. He has requested his Executive Representative for Burundi to continue to work closely with these regional partners to help restore dialogue between the parties, with a view to ensuring the expeditious implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement.

Communique of the 81st Meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement of 7 September 2006 between the Government of Burundi and the Paliphehutu-FNL of Agathon Rwasa
The Council:
· Expressed its concern over the delays in the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement and the recurring difficulties encountered in this regard. Council calls upon the parties to honour their obligations and commitments with a view to accelerating the implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement which should be concluded at the latest by December 2007. [Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: it is clear that this is a deadline that has been set and that this should be seriously considered by the Paliphehutu-FNL.]
· Noted with concern the danger of institutional stalemate in Burundi and encouraged the Government of Burundi, the political opposition and all other parties to work together for unity and reconciliation. Council further encourages the Burundian authorities and the political opposition to work together to put an end to the political crisis through a frank dialogue.

Current Developments

On 21 July 2007, General Jean-Berchmans Ndayishimiye, a senior representative of the leadership of the PALIPHEHUTU-FNL at the Joint Verification Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM), escaped from his South African VIP protectors whilst visiting Bujumbura to discuss the implementation of the September 2006 Ceasefire Agreement. General Ndayishimiye, who is the head of military and intelligence operations in the PALIPEHUTU-FNL, has returned to Burundi several months ago to head the delegation of fifteen PALIPHEHUTU-FNL officials participating in the JVMM, the body overseeing the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. General Ndayishimiye's escape was confirmed by General Godefroid Niyombare, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Burundi National Defence Force, as well as Colonel Motaung, the Head of the SANDF VIP protection unit (based in the Office of the Facilitator in Bujumbura).

General Ndayishimiye's escape was executed in a well-planned manner, as he immediately made his way to the hills where heavily armed combatants awaited him, forcing his South African protectors to let him go. The escape occurred soon after Colonel Motaung briefed the Mission on a possible escape attempt. Colonel Motaung informed Mission staff that protection around General Jean-Berchmans and other PALIPHEHUTU-FNL officials had been tightened and their movements limited as intelligence reports indicated a possible escape attempt. Based on these intelligence reports, the PALIPHEHUTU-FNL delegation were not allowed to move around in groups.

The Burundi government expressed grave concern after learning about the escape and accused the PALIPHEHUTU- FNL of recruiting more combatants and re-arming in order to resume fighting. The Burundi government also said that the implementation of the September 2006 Ceasefire Agreement is extremely slow, despite the meeting between President Nkurunziza and PALIPHEHUTU-FNL leader Agathon Rwasa on 19 June 2007 in Dar es Salaam to try and resolve issues hampering its implementation. According to PALIHEHUTU-FNL spokesperson Pasteur Habimana, the PALIPHEHUTU-FNL does not intend re-arming in order to resume fighting, but that General Ndayishimiye went to the 'bush' to consult with PALIPHEHUTU-FNL leader Agathon Rwasa on the pace of the peace process.

In a Communiqué released on 20 July 2007, the Office of the Facilitator in Bujumbura expressed concern on recent developments and called for the PALIPHEHUTU-FNL to return to the JVMM and Joint Liaison Teams (JLT) meetings and continue with the implementation process of the Ceasefire Agreement. The South African Ambassador to Burundi refuted allegations made by representatives of the PALIHEHUTU-FNL to the JVMM and JLT that they were being mistreated by their South African protectors and that they were subjected to 'house arrest' prior to the escape of General Ndayishiminye. The decision to limit the movement of PALIHEHUTU-FNL members was taken after missing weapons belonging to the South African VIP protectors were located at the residence of one of the PALIHEHUTU-FNL officials, as well as intelligence reports on an imminent escape attempt.

A split has emerged within the PALIPEHUTU-FNL leadership on the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. On the one hand, Mr Pasteur Habimana controls the hard-line faction within the movement that does not wish to implement the Ceasefire Agreement, and on the other hand, Mr Agathon Rwasa seems to have been marginalised since his recent meeting with President Nkurunziza. It is alleged that Mr Rwasa faced an internal rebellion led by Mr Habimana for making a number of concessions to the Burundi government.

MIDDLE EAST

The South African government remains concerned at the situation in the Middle East. There has been no progress with regard to the Palestinian situation since I last briefed you. Hamas still controls Gaza and the caretaker government under President Abbas still controls Ramallah.

The African Union Summit did adopt a resolution on this matter. I do believe this is important since it forms the framework under which all of Africa will deal with this matter.

African Union Foreign Ministers, at their meeting preceding the Summit in July 2007 in Accra, Ghana:
1. TAKES NOTE of the Report on the Situation in the Middle East and Palestine;

2. RECALLS all relevant Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the OAU/AU on the situation in Palestine and the Middle East;

3. REITERATES its continued full support to and solidarity with the Palestinian people, and the Authority of the Palestine Liberation Organization the sole representative in their just and legitimate struggle for the exercise of their inalienable national rights including their right to selfdetermination, return to their land, recovery of their properties and the establishment of an independent State on their national soil with Al-Quds as its capital in accordance with the principle of international law and all the UN resolutions and other pertinent resolutions of the OAU/AU;

4. REAFFIRMS ITS SUPPORT for the peaceful solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict in accordance with the principles of international law, all pertinent resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly and the Arab Peace Initiative to end the Israeli occupation that began on 5 June 1967, with the achievement of the vision of two States, Israel and an independent, sovereign and territorially contiguous Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security;

5. CALLS UPON the United Nations to take concrete measures to protect the people of Palestine by providing international protection forces to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to compel Israel to allow the UN factfinding missions charged with investigating war crimes and atrocities perpetrated against Palestinian Peoples to discharge its duties within the Occupied Territories;

6. EXPRESSES GRAVE CONCERN over the deterioration of the economic, social and health conditions resulting from continued Israeli occupation, siege, restriction of movement of goods and persons;

7. STRONGLY CONDEMNS the Israeli repressive measures, aggressions and all acts perpetrated by Israel against harmless innocent people; the policies of assassinations; ongoing invasions in the cities; villages and Palestinian camps; as well as the heinous crimes and massacres, especially the latest atrocious assault committed by the Israeli forces on 17 May over different public institutions in the Gaza strip; and URGES the Israeli Government to put an end to all these indiscriminate measures and retaliatory actions that violate International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949;

8. STRONGLY CONDEMNS the continued Israeli policy of arresting and detaining the Palestinians, especially the kidnapping and detention without trial of Ministers, Members of the Legislative Council and the Municipal Council, which constitute a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law;

9. STRONGLY CONDEMNS the construction by Israel of the Separation Wall and the expansion of the Colonial Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, around Al-Quds town, especially the recent Israeli decision to build 20000 housing units which violate International Humanitarian Law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and URGES Israel to comply with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and General Assembly Decision ES-10/15;

10. CALLS UPON the International Community and the Members of the Quartet Committee to spare no efforts to reinvigorate the negotiations and to salvage the peace process, and EXPRESSES the AU support for the organization of an International Peace Conference on the Middle East conflict;

11. CONSIDERS the establishment of the government of Palestinian National Unity as a symbol of the unity of the Palestinian people in face of Israeli occupation; and EXPRESSES ITS GRAVE CONCERN over the deteriorating situation between the two main components of the Government of National Unity, namely, Fatah and Hamas, resulting in the dissolution of the Government;

12. AFFIRMS that such a situation is detrimental to the cause of the Palestinian people, and REMINDS the Palestinian factions that their unity is the only guarantee to preserve their gains and move towards their national objectives;

13. SUPPORTS the decision related to the Arab Peace Initiative adopted in Beirut in 2002 and reaffirmed at the last Arab Summit in Riyadh and regard it as an important and appropriate framework to put an end to the conflict in the Middle East and as the way to a just, comprehensive and durable solution on all the fronts;

14. URGES the Government of Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative as an Arab effort towards putting an end to the conflict in the Middle East, and also providing a chance for mutual recognition between Israel and Arab countries;

15. CALLS UPON the International Community to lift the siege, boycott and blockade against the Government so as to ease the difficult living conditions of Palestinian People which stirs up tension and violence;

16. EXPRESSES GRAVE CONCERN regarding the tension and violence in Lebanon, and CALLS UPON all Lebanese parties to resolve their differences through negotiations;

17. URGES the Government of Israel to put an end to its occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights and all Arab Territories occupied during the June 1967 war in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions No. 242 and 338.

African Heads of State meeting at their Summit in Accra, Ghana on 3 July 2007 issued the following declaration:

DECLARATION ON THE ARAB PEACE INITIATIVE

We, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union meeting in our Ninth
Ordinary Session, in Accra, Ghana, from 1 to 3 July 2007,

Having examined the grave situation resulting from the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands,

1. SUPPORT the Arab Peace Initiative (API) in all its aspects, as adopted by the Arab Summit in its 14th Session in Beirut, Lebanon, on 28 March 2002, to resolve the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict;

2. DECIDE to deploy all efforts and means to promote the API, explain its dimensions and lobby international support for its implementation;

3. SUPPORT the Decision of the Arab Summit concerning the implementation of the API taken at its 19th Session, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on 29 March 2007;

4. AFFIRM that a comprehensive and just peace in the region can only be achieved by complete Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian and Arab lands occupied since June 1967; by establishment of an independent sovereign Palestinian State with Al-Quds (East Jerusalem) as its capital and through a just olution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees in ccordance with the UN-General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948;

5. CALL FOR the organization of an International Conference for all oncerned international and regional parties, to be held under the uspices of the United Nations and the Quartet, to launch the process f direct, serious and meaningful negotiations in accordance with the greed instruments. This peace process should be within a well-defined time framework;

6. CALL UPON the Chairperson of the Commission to intensify his contacts and coordinate with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States to deploy concerted efforts to promote the API and to lobby international support for its implementation.

Accra, Ghana, 3 July 2007

Secretary of State Rice visits the Middle East
On Tuesday 31 July 2007, the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates met foreign ministers from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

They also met with King Abdullah in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, followed by meetings with Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas.



On Monday 30 July 2007, the US announced military aid worth more than $43bn to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Egypt will receive $13bn in aid over 10 years while $30bn will go to Israel over the same period, Rice said.

Rice said that an unspecified defence aid package was allocated for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

The Saudi package is expected to upgrade the country's missile defences and air force and increase its naval capabilities, a defence official said on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries are likely to receive as much as $20bn over 10 years, he said.

Rice said: "This effort will help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran."

Syria's foreign minister called the US administration's armaments deal "dangerous".

"He who wants to make peace does not start out with an arms initiative which is dangerous for the region," Walid Muallem said on Tuesday.

Tehran accused the US on Monday of creating fear and causing divisions in the Middle East by announcing the major package of arms deals.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, said: "America has always considered one policy in this region and that is creating fear and concerns in the countries of the region and trying to harm the good relations between these countries."

However, Nicholas Burns, the US undersecretary of state, characterised the deals as a continuation of existing policy.

"It's not as if we're introducing some new element in the region," he said. "Iran is a factor in this, but it wasn't the overriding factor."

He said he saw no conflict between the aid packages to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose governments have a long record of human-rights abuses, and the current administration's long-term goal of promoting democracy in the region, led by George Bush, the US president.

US and Palestinians sign $80m deal
The US Secretary of State has met with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in Ramallah and signed an agreement granting the Palestinians $80 million for reform of their security services.

The move follows Washington's recent pledge of at least $86m to Abbas.



Condoleezza Rice said after talks with Abbas on Thursday that Israel was ready to discuss "fundamental issues" on creating a Palestinian state.

In return, Abbas said he is ready to work with Israel on a "declaration of principles" as a step toward a full peace agreement.


Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, had floated the idea last week.

Such a declaration, as envisioned by Israel, would outline the contours of a future Palestinian state, without immediately tackling the most explosive issues, such as final borders and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Abbas suggested he is ready to consider the idea.

Israeli-Palestinian talks would "focus on implementing what was mentioned in the road map," he said, referring to the international peace plan that envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"Then we could end in a declaration of principles," Abbas said during a joint news conference with Rice.

"The important thing here is that we reach results, and that we know the ceiling (final stage), but the the stages of implementation can be agreed upon." Abbas said.

President Abbas also told US Secretary of State Condoleezza that he was working to improve security in the Palestinian territories.

"We are continuing our efforts to improve the security situation," he said.

He told the news conference: "We want to achieve a Palestinian state and security."

Rice also said an international peace conference being promoted by the administration of George Bush, the US president, for this fall "is not to get people together for a photo op" but rather "so that we can really advance Palestinian statehood."

The US Secretary of State arrived in the Israeli-occupied West Bank earlier on Thursday for talks with the Palestinian officials aimed at developing a peace plan.

She met Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas' Western-backed government.
She also met the Palestinian cabinet, a gesture of support for the team that replaced the Hamas government after the group seized Gaza by force.

Rice's meeting with Abbas is the first since Hamas' took control of the other Palestinian territory, Gaza.

When Hamas wrestled control of Gaza from Abbas' Fatah forces in mid-June, the president of the Palestinian Authority fired the group from the government and installed a new cabinet in the West Bank.

"Ultimately, the Palestinian people will have to choose what kind of world they will live in, what kind of state they will have," Rice said, at the end of a four-day Middle East trip.

The tour is partly aimed at laying the groundwork for an international peace conference that the United States will host later in the year.

Joint Statement Following July 31 Meeting

The following is the text of the joint statement released at the conclusion of the July 31, 2007 Foreign Minister's meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt, Jordan, and the United States in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt:

The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt, Jordan, and the United States met today in Sharm El-Sheik to consult as partners and friends and to coordinate their efforts to promote regional peace and security. The participants reaffirmed their shared vision of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Middle East and their commitment to work together to achieve this common goal. This meeting follows the meetings previously held in New York, Cairo, at the Dead Sea and in Kuwait city.

The participants emphasized the importance of dialogue and diplomacy and affirmed that disputes among states should be settled peacefully and in a manner consistent with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, and that relations among all countries should be based on mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, and on the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations. The participants expressed their steadfast support to any Gulf states in facing external threats to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Agreeing that the peace and security of the Gulf region are critical to the health of the global economy and international stability and the need to continue the stability of the Gulf as a vital national interest for all, the participants resolved to continue their longstanding cooperation against such threats.

Agreeing on the importance of a just, comprehensive peace to the prosperity, stability and security of the Middle East, the Foreign Ministers reiterated their commitment to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and noted that the foundation for such an outcome includes UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397, and 1515, and the Arab Peace Initiative, to end the occupation since 1967 and establish a Palestinian state that is viable and contiguous and living in peace and security with all its neighbours. They also emphasized the work of the International Quartet in this context.

The participants expressed deep concern about the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, and affirmed the necessity of continuing assistance and support to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Abbas and his government. Participants denounced all acts of violence and called for law and order under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza.

The participants urged Israel and the Palestinians to meet all previous commitments. They undertook to support efforts to create an environment conducive to progress on the bilateral tracks for a just and comprehensive settlement and in that context welcomed the joint visit by the Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers to Israel on July 25, 2007, to discuss the Arab Peace Initiative as mandated by the Arab League's Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee.

The participants welcomed the commitment expressed by U.S. President George W. Bush in his July 16, 2007, speech to strengthen political and diplomatic efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, and promised to support efforts to this end.

The participants reaffirmed the sovereignty; territorial integrity, political independence, and national unity of Iraq; the inviolability of Iraq's internationally recognized borders; and their adherence to the principle of noninterference in Iraq's internal affairs. To this end, participants confirmed their commitment to full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1511, 1546, 1618, 1637 and 1723, urged all of Iraq's neighbors to also fully impellent these resolutions, and called for an end to all interference in Iraq, including supply of arms and training to the militia and extra-governmental armed groups.

While calling on the government of Iraq to respect its commitments, the participants underlined the urgency and importance of implementing the principles agreed upon in Sharm El-Sheikh during the May 2007 Ministerial Conference of the Neighbouring Countries of Iraq and Egypt with the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and the G-8, and reiterated their commitment to prevent the transit of terrorists to Iraq, arms for terrorists and financing that would support terrorists and for strengthening cooperation in this regard, and called on all of Iraq's neighbors to take all necessary steps to interdict such transit, and call on Iraq and its neighbors to exchange information regarding the fight against terrorism.

Acknowledging that a unified, democratic, and stable Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors and itself is a shared, critical objective, the participants pledged to continue to support Iraq, and expand their financial and political support. The participants agreed that the international community also must demonstrate its support for Iraq, including through the International Compact with Iraq, and that all of these efforts must supplement Iraq's own efforts.

Underscoring that every political community leader in Iraq has a role to play in national reconciliation efforts, the ministers called on all Iraqis to work together through the political process to build a brighter common future. They reiterated to the Iraqi government the need to undertake national reconciliation efforts by ensuring a fair and inclusive political process that engages all Iraqis, fosters economic reform, and provides security and services to all Iraqis. The participants called for the disbanding of all militia immediately in order for Iraqi security forces to grow stronger and for an immediate cessation of all acts of terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq that exacerbate the suffering of the Iraqi people and undermine regional security and stability. Participants encouraged the Arab League and the United Nations to continue their effort to work with the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people to help Iraq's leaders forge a common national vision that will advance Iraqi national reconciliation.

Recognizing the grave threat posted to regional and global security by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and wishing to avoid a destabilizing nuclear arms race in the region, the participants concur that it is important to achieve the universality of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and for all parties to comply with it fully, and with all relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, including resolutions 1737 and 1747. The participants recognize the goal of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

With regard to Iran's nuclear activities, the participants reiterated their strong support for international diplomatic efforts and called on Iran to comply with international diplomatic efforts and called on Iran to comply with all its NPT obligations, including its safeguards obligations. They hope that the talks between the IEA and the government of Ira will be positively pursued. The participants also reiterated the rights of all the parties to the Treaty to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with the non-proliferation obligations in Articles I, II, and III of the Treaty.

The participants reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, resolved to maintain a united front against the terrorist elements that have targeted the Middle East and threaten the states and peoples of the region, and reaffirmed the United National Security Council's declaration on the global effort to combat terrorism, adopted by resolution 1377, including its "unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of all their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, whenever and by whomever committed." The ministers also endorsed the March 2007 Riyadh Declaration's call to "promote the culture of moderation, tolerance, dialogue, and openness, and reject all forms of terrorism, fanaticism, and extremism, as well as all forms of exclusionist racism, the campaigns of hatred and distortion, and attempts to cast doubt on our humanitarian values or harm the religious beliefs and sacred places, and warn against the use of sectarianism for political ends with the aim of dividing the nation, driving a wedge between its states and peoples, and igniting destructive civil strife and conflicts in them".

The participants reaffirmed their support for a sovereign democratic, and prosperous Lebanon, and for Lebanon's Legitimate government, headed by Prime Minister Siniora. They encouraged the Lebanese parties to support the efforts towards resuming national dialogue and noted the imperative of full implementation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 1559, 1680, 1701, and 1757. They also took note of the recent report of the U.N.'s border assessment team. They called on all Lebanese factions and regional parties to respect the legitimate political process and to refrain from any activities to destabilize this process. The participants strongly condemned all terrorist attacks in Lebanon, including the recent assassination of Lebanese Member of Parliament Walid Eido. Participants lauded the efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces in its fight against violent armed groups, such as Fatah al-Islam, which are determined to spread terror, and undermine Lebanese stability. Finally, the participants called for the respect of the Lebanese constitution including the holding of free and fair presidential elections held on-time, and the establishment of Lebanese national unity behind a constitutional process to elect a new president.

Arab League Supports Middle East Peace Conference

Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa said, "We support the convening of an international meeting attended by all parties involved in the peace process to launch direct negotiations on all tracks to reach a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict in a specific time frame."

"Our position on the next steps now depends on many points, including the parties involved, the objective of the conference and its agenda."

"What is on the table here is the Arab-Israeli conflict and the solution of the conflict which means that all parties should be there."

Transcript of Press Briefing Conference Call on US Aid and Military Support the Middle East region by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns (Tuesday 31 July 2007)
As Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates head for the Middle East this week, we wanted to send a strong signal of support for the security concerns of all of our partners in the region, of Israel, of Egypt, of Saudi Arabia, and of the other Gulf states, the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. And we see this announcement this morning about our future security assistance over the long term to support our broad strategic interest in the Middle East, and that is to maintain a very strong American presence and influence in the region. It is to give specific support to those partners that need it and that's all of them, of course. And it's also a comprehensive step by the United States to address our overall policy objectives in the region.

We are very much engaged diplomatically, of course, on the question of Iraq, but also on the effort to rebuff the attempt by Iran to advance its own strategic interest in the region and to expand its influence in the region. We want to make sure that countries are strong enough from a defensive standpoint to protect their borders, to deal with maritime security as well as other threats to security. We obviously have our eye on the conflict in Lebanon as well. And so it's a time, we thought, for us to reassert the important position of the United States in the region and our relationship with the allies.

There are three components of it that are pretty clear from this statement, but I thought I should just go over them. Number one, we are committing to a new 10-year military assistance program to Israel. We're committing to $30 billion, which is an increase over the last 10-year program begun in 1998 by the Clinton Administration. Right now, we're averaging -- we are at a level of $2.4 billion in U.S. military assistance to Israel per year. That will average now $3 billion per year over the next 10 years. We are phasing out, and have agreed with the Israelis to phase out, economic support funds, so that ends as of this year.

With Egypt, we are -- of course, as you know, have agreed to a new 10-year, $13 billion military assistance agreement with Egypt. We think that will strengthen Egypt's ability to maintain its regional role and we are working separately with the Egyptians on an economic support fund package of assistance which I hope will be -- we will be able to announce in the next 30 days or so.

In addition to that, the other piece of this is that we are -- we'll be beginning the conversation, a serious conversation with Saudi Arabia and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to address their security needs. Of course, we've had a strategic presence in the Middle East that dates back to the Second World War. We've had our Navy in the Gulf, for instance, since 1949. We've had a defense relationship with most of these Arab states, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states for the entire time that they've been independent countries. And of course, since the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, we've had a tradition over the last 25 years of significant arms sales to these countries.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for having this call for us. This full package, this whole initiative started about a year ago before there were changes in U.S. posture towards Iran, and I was just wondering if there's any concern that the way the package is being sold as this counter to Iran, that that might undermine the current effort to enlist Iran's support in Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, first of all, Farah, let me say that the package of assistance agreements announced today speak really to our broadest strategic interest in the region and that is having strong partners. And so the primary rationale for going ahead with U.S. military assistance to Israel, Egypt and the other Arab countries is to strengthen them, so that they can be strong on all the other issues that are important to them and to us.

Second, I would bring you back to the point I made in my introductory comments, this is not a departure for the United States, this is not a new initiative. We have been -- we've had a security assistance relationship with most of these countries for decades -- for some of them since the very beginning of their existence as independent nation states. And so it's not as if we're somehow introducing a new element in the region. We think both the presence of the United States in the region as a strong country and the strengthening of our partners is the best way to ensure long-term stability and long-term peace.

Third, the Iran element is one factor. It's not the overriding factor in why we're doing this. But it is true that if you travel to Israel, if you travel to Egypt and if you travel to each member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, there is a high degree of concern about Iran's quest to become a nuclear weapons power. But also about the fact that Iran has, as you know, funded and armed most of the Middle East terrorist groups that are bedeviling Israel, the moderate Palestinians, the Lebanese Government and the Iraqi Government, from Hamas to Hezbollah to the Shia militants in Iraq.

And so Iran is a factor in this, but it wasn't the overriding factor and we certainly would have gone forward with these sales regardless. But I think the Iranian factor has been such an acute concern for these countries, as they mentioned to us, that's been true in the Gulf security dialogue that Secretary Rice has had -- she's had four meetings since September -- that issue has come up repeatedly. It's true in our conversations with all these countries. So it's a factor among several that lead us to put forward these packages today.

QUESTION: So there's no, sort of, quid pro quo regarding Iraq support. These countries could get tremendous amount of U.S. military equipment but still not be supportive or even be the opposite with regard to Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: There are no formal quid pro quos at all behind this, but it stands to reason that given the fact that Iraq is the number-one American foreign policy interest globally, we would want our friends in the region to be supportive, not only of what the United States is doing in Iraq, but what the -- but of the Iraqi Government itself. And we've made that point, obviously, repeatedly to these countries and we'll -- that will continue to be a major emphasis on our part.

QUESTION: Hi, Nick. It's Zain. I'm also a Pain. (Laughter.) Just one thing; there's a feeling that your strategy could backfire and what it will do, on the one hand, is allow Ahmadi-Nejad to get a lot more support for his own hardline faction in Iran, as well as generate instability in the region and not the security that you want. What are your thoughts on both?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Zain, pleasure to talk to you. I'm sorry if we got your name -- if someone got your name wrong. Well, I guess the way I'd answer that question would be to say that Iran has worried everybody in the region. If you travel around the Middle East, whether it's to Israel or the Palestinian territories or to the Gulf countries, as well as the other countries of Levant, everyone's concerned by the fact that Iran is arming and funding Hezbollah and Hamas, Palestinian-Islamic Jihad, PFLP General Command.

It was striking when Secretary Rice had her last Quartet meeting in Lisbon. I think it was the same day Ahmadi-Nejad was in Damascus meeting with the frontive country that supports terrorism in the Middle East. It supports everything that the rest of the world is trying to defend against. And so the Iranians are the ones who have caused this concern. Now we would call upon the Iranians to stop their military assistance to terrorist groups and we call upon them to stop their financial assistance.

We've tried to open the door to them. We have this channel in Iraq where Ambassador -- where Ryan Crocker, our Ambassador, has been meeting with the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq. We've certainly offered through Solana, representing the interests of the P-5, our renewed interest in having negotiations on the nuclear issue, but we've been rebuffed by Iran. So it's the Iranians that have started -- that have caused the concern in the first place.

I think in the region, it's going to be understood that one of the reasons for these sales -- one of them, but not all -- not the totality, is to enable these countries to strengthen their defenses and therefore, to provide a deterrence against Iranian expansionism and Iranian aggression in the future. Now that's not the only reason we're doing this, but it is a leading factor and I think it's the Iranians who have to answer questions about their regional policy. The countries of the region want the U.S. to be present, they want the U.S. to have a security assistance relationship with them, and they want the United States to remain a strong influence in the region. And this statement today buttresses that ambition. The countries of the region do not want to see Iran strengthen its own position and continue to fuel and fund these radical groups. That's how I'd answer your question.

Today's announcement will be seen, I would predict, by the governments in the Gulf, as well as in Egypt and in Israel, as a reaffirmation of the American commitment to their security. They have told us that this type of step by us, a comprehensive way to address security concerns of the region, is absolutely necessary. So on the contrary; I don't think it's going to embolden the Iranians or give them an excuse to continue doing what they're doing. It is the region's wish that we engage in these -- in this military assistance, because the Iranians have caused the concern in the first place.

QUESTION: Oh, good. I wonder if you could talk a bit about the relationship of this proposed arms sale to U.S. basing and access agreements and I wonder if, parallel to your technical negotiations with the Gulf states, whether you're going to be renegotiating any status of forces agreements or expanding American lily pad or CLS access agreements?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: The -- what we're announcing today is essentially our -- the levels of our assistance to Israel and Egypt and the intention to continue with our decades-long military assistance policies towards the Gulf states. And, of course, we also have basing agreements and status of forces agreements with all of these countries. They're not directly tied to these levels of assistance, but they're part of our overall military cooperation. So I'm not in a position today to say that we're ready to announce any new developments; that's the job of DOD. And I don't want to let you think, from what I've just said, that somehow there is an announcement imminent. I think we'll continue; we want to continue with the type of military cooperation we've had regarding basing, but that's a DOD issue for the future.

QUESTION: Thanks, Nick. Following up on the Iran question, you've made considerable efforts to try to reach out domestically to so-called, the formers, or moderates, or democracy groups inside Iran. Won't this help Ahmadi-Nejad internally -- not only externally but internally -- to follow up on Zain's question, in getting a counter-reaction in solidifying his domestic support?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I don't think so at all, I mean -- Andrea, I actually think it works the other way. If you look at most of the recent public opinion polls about Iranian attitudes that have been published, the Iranians, obviously, are proud of their country, they're nationalistic, they want their country to succeed, but they are open to a relationship with the United States, most Iranians. They don't want to see their country in conflict with other countries. And I think what this will serve to do is to remind most Iranians that we are seeking a peaceful relationship with Iran. And I know that's true of the Arab states; no one wants to have a conflict-ridden relationship.

But if the Iranians that have caused a major, major turbulence in the region by going forward with this Damascus -- these summits in Damascus with Syria, with Hamas and Hezbollah all represented by the strengthening of their military and political assistance to most of the Middle East terrorist groups, this package answers the concern that the Arabs have. I think within Iran itself, it will have the effect among the reformers in Iran of indicating again how isolated the Iranians are and how few friends they have in the region.

And it will reinforce a concern that is present among the reformers in Iran that their country is upsetting the status quo in the Middle East. So I actually don't think that Ahmadi-Nejad will be able to capitalize very much on it. I'm sure he will try. I'm sure there will be speeches by Ahmadi-Nejad and his colleagues over the next couple of days that will try to take advantage of this. I don't think it's going to succeed inside Iran. It certainly isn't -- is not going to succeed in the Middle East in general, because that concern about Iran's behavior already exists.

QUESTION: And aside from hopes or expectations or wishful thinking, what evidence do you all have that the Saudis and others will respond to an implicit, at least, quid pro quo and be more helpful regarding Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, first of all, on the question of security assistance with the Saudis and others, we've been talking to them for the last year. So they understand that we're not starting the latent -- the last stage of this, which is the formal process of identifying the specific systems and equipment that's going to be sold to them.

Secondly, we obvious -- since Iraq is issue number-one for us and since we have to succeed there, the Saudis and the others are not under any other impression but that. We hope they will be and we expect that they will be supportive of the Iraqi Government. I don't -- there's no contradiction there and I think they're very well aware of our views because we talk to them constantly about the situation in Iraq.

QUESTION: It just seems that the situation has been getting worse with more Saudi support for Sunni insurgents and you've been talking to them during this period where the situation has deteriorated.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS:
Yeah. I mean, you saw the Washington Post op-ed by Ken Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon. We think that there have been -- you know, there are some reasons to believe that we are finding some success on the ground. And we obviously will want to talk to -- continue to talk to the Saudis and others, the other Arab states about the need to be openly and politically supportive of the Iraqi Government.
.
QUESTION: Hey Nick, Mike Hirsch with Newsweek. I just was wondering -- I mean, do you expect us to forget about or to put aside what has been -- you know, the predominant foreign policy agenda, particularly in the Middle East, of this Administration? And Secretary Rice has spoken time and again about -- you know, the false stability created by U.S. policy in the past and you had -- you know, yet you have talked just now, you know, without any apparent sense of irony about the decades-long relationship we've had with these regimes, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and so on. I heard nothing about any conditions placed on this aid.

In fact, you seem to emphatically deny that there was any quid pro quo of any kind, particularly, you know, conditions in sort of the democratization, which, again, was the agenda that we heard so much about early in the second term. Can you address this apparent contradiction?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, Mike, thank you for your question. We don't normally deal in irony presenting our views. We try to present them, in effect, in a forward way. The fact is that given -- the Middle East is the most turbulent part of the world and the one most directly tied to vital American interests. And we never suspended our military assistance to Saudi Arabia or the other states at any time during this period. We have been constant supporters of their national security and we never suggested and Secretary Rice never suggested that we should somehow end the relationship with them that we had enjoyed with them for decades long.

But we are interested in the long-term political evolution of these countries towards greater freedom and greater democracy. And the fact is, I think Secretary Rice -- I remember even in her Cairo speech saying this, is that we couldn't expect to see results overnight. And so we continue with our security assistance relationship as we had always planned and we had never indicated anything otherwise back in 2005 and 2006. And yet at the same time, have a longer-term agenda trying to promote the kind of political and societal change that will lead to greater freedom -
[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: It will be very useful for you to study this transcript. There are many reports emerging of a possible attack against Iran. We hope that these reports are not true because it is our belief that any further escalation of conflict in the region or action against Iran will only create the conditions for an explosion in the region. We do believe these reports are not true but all evidence seems to be indicating that we are reaching a very dangerous situation with regard to Iran.]

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION: IRAN

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday 25 July 2007 said that its inspectors will visit Iran's Arak reactor, ahead of further talks planned for August 2007.

The announcement in Vienna after discussions between senior IAEA officials and an Iranian delegation came as part of efforts to resolve outstanding issues pertaining to the country's past nuclear programme and to clarify safeguards implementation issues.

IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen said during the August meeting, the agency will discuss plutonium contamination and other outstanding issues.

"In the weeks to come, we will then talk about other outstanding issues that are related to Iran's enrichment programme," he said.

Javad Vaeedi, head of the Iranian delegation and Under-Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Council, said that during yesterday's meeting, "good discussions were held and constructive progress was made."

Conclusion of visit to Iran by IAEA (11-12 July 2007)
An Agency delegation, headed by Mr. Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director General for Safeguards, visited Iran from 11 - 12 July 2007 to draw up a work plan for the modalities for resolving the outstanding issues related to Iran´s past nuclear programme and to clarify some present safeguards implementation issues.

During the visit to Iran, agreement was reached on: the designation of new Agency inspectors; a visit of Agency inspectors to the Heavy Water Research Reactor at Arak by the end of July 2007; and the finalisation of the safeguards approach at the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz during early August 2007.

In addition, agreement was reached on the modalities to resolve remaining issues regarding Iran´s past plutonium experiments. A dedicated meeting will take place in Iran for this purpose in early August 2007.

It was agreed that Iran and the Agency will subsequently embark on clarifying the open issues associated with the scope and content of Iran´s enrichment programme, including uranium contamination found on equipment at a specific location, as well as studies related to specified projects.

The visit follows the June 2007 meeting between Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director General, and Dr. Ali Larijani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran.

It is clear that sanctions, over and above those imposed by the United Nations Security Council, are being implemented against Iran.

The Financial Times UK on Tuesday 31 July 2007 reported that Washington's campaign to persuade financial institutions to break ties with Tehran gained another scalp on Tuesday when Deutsche Bank confirmed it had decided to ceased doing business in Iran

The bank said it had informed clients in Iran on July 20 that they would have to transfer to other institutions by September 14.

It said tougher disclosure requirements introduced by the United Nations and the European Union and moves by the German government to restrict credit guarantees, meant it was no longer worth continuing business with Iran.

The bank's move, which was earlier reported in the Wall Street Journal, also comes after a vigorous lobbying campaign by the US Treasury, which has warned more than 40 banks across the world that it would follow a strict interpretation of US and UN restrictions on doing business with Iran.

Deutsche Bank will also cease to seek any new ties with corporate clients in Iran and wind down activities until it no longer had any relations in the country.

The Treasury's campaign to persuade banks to impose such "formal sanctions" has outpaced the US diplomatic attempt to win support for formal multilateral measures against Iran, which is unlikely to result in another round of UN sanctions against the country before September.

The campaign began when the US prohibited two Iranian banks - Sepah and Sadaret - from gaining access to the US financial system for dollar transactions through third-party banks.

Some diplomats and analysts say the Treasury is considering further such executive orders, on terrorism or proliferation grounds, against Iran's Bank Melli and Bank Markazi, the Iranian Central Bank.

In June, Hank Paulson, the Treasury secretary, hinted at possible grounds for such a move then he said, "The central bank of Iran is sending money through Bank Sadaret to Hizbollah."

A move against the Iranian central bank, which is closely involved with the receipt of hard-currency payments for oil, could have the effect of closing the entire Iranian economy from dollar transactions. Iran has already announced it is shifting reserves into other currencies.
On Tuesday, Germany's Commerzbank said it was also debating pulling out of Iran. A spokesman for the bank said, "We are in the process to find out what business, if any, we can do [there] in the future."

IRAQ

The South African government condemns the suicide bombing in Iraq on Wednesday 1 August 2007 in which more than 70 people were killed and approximately 80 injured after four separate bomb blasts in Baghdad.

This situation is very worrying indeed. It is clear that the body count is increasingly phenomenally but that these are being accepted by the people knowing there is little they can do.

The South African government also expresses its concern that the Sunni Accordance Front's 5 cabinet ministers and Deputy Prime Minister would leave the government. This will further exacerbate the continuing crisis in Iraq and will only lead to the further escalation of the violence.

Half of Iraq 'in absolute poverty'
Up to eight million Iraqis require immediate emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in "absolute poverty", according to a report by Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi groups.

About four million people are lacking food and "in dire need of different types of humanitarian assistance", said the report, released in Amman on Monday.



"Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care, education, and employment," said the report, compiled by Oxfam and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI).



The report also says two million people within the country are currently displaced, while more than two million are refugees.

Most of those refugees have fled to Jordan and Syria.

Said Arikit, a spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq, sais the report painted a "grim picture".

"Many of the figures and percentages in the report were actually derived from UN sources… so we concur with the findings," he said.

"The government of Iraq is definitely the authority in Iraq and it bears responsibility for the welfare of its people."

Iraqi services have been left in crisis as most of those seeking refuge are professionals, according to the report.

"The 'brain drain' that Iraq is experiencing is further stretching already inadequate public services, as thousands of medical staff, teachers, water engineers, and other professionals are forced to leave the country," it said.

The entry of Iraqi refugees to neighbouring countries has placed a growing strain on health, education and social services in the two countries.

Only 60 per cent of the four million people who depend on food assistance have access to rations from the government-run public distribution system, down from 96 per cent in 2004, the report said.

The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003.

The lack of effective sanitation was also highlighted by the joint report, which said 80 per cent of people in Iraq did not have safe access.

The report said children were the hardest hit by the fall in living standards, stating child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent currently.

"Despite the constraints imposed by the government of Iraq, the UN and the international donors can do more to deliver humanitarian assistance to reduce unnecessary suffering," the report said.

One recommendation called for the government of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, to decentralise the distribution of aid to local authorities, and make it easier for civil society organisations to operate.

Launch of UN Appeal for Iraq

Warning that a generation of Iraqis could grow up uneducated and alienated, the United Nations on Friday 27 July 2007 launched a $129 million appeal to ensure that tens of thousands of uprooted children who have fled their homeland can resume their education.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) jointly presented the plan to support host governments such as Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon in providing schooling for an additional 155,000 young Iraqi refugees during the 2007-2008 school year.

"These host countries have borne an enormous burden caring for millions of Iraqis," UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Judy Cheng-Hopkins told news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, noting that of the more than 2 million Iraqis have fled the continuing violence in their homeland, some 500,000 are of school age and most currently have limited or no access to education.

"The sheer number of uprooted Iraqis has outstripped the capacity of their infrastructure to cope, particularly in the area of education. So we are now asking for international support specifically aimed at assisting these generous host governments in getting Iraqi children back into school."

The praise for the host countries was echoed by Deputy Director of UNICEF's Office of Emergency Programmes Pierrette Vu. "UNICEF believes schooling is a primary concern in all emergency situations because it can help restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of children and can help them overcome psychological and other forms of distress," she said.

"The Jordanian and Syrian governments have done a tremendous job so far of welcoming Iraqis as guests. The children of Iraq have waited long enough. Action must be taken now so that children are ready to go to school when classes begin."

Activities envisaged in the appeal include providing pre-fabricated classrooms and buildings as soon as possible; identifying existing buildings that can be used as temporary schools; upgrading water and sanitation in schools; building new schools or additional classrooms; and rehabilitating existing schools. Double-shifting in existing schools will be an option.

Buses will be rented or purchased to transport children to school. The appeal estimates more than 4,000 new teachers will be required for the 155,000 additional children. The programme will cover salaries, other entitlements and training costs for the additional teachers.

Many children have already missed have already missed up to three years of schooling and remedial programmes and psycho-social support will be established for them and their families in hopes of reintegrating them in the school system. Training will be provided to school counsellors and teachers to deal with the special needs of Iraqi children, many of whom suffered traumatic experiences.

The appeal notes that of an estimated 300,000 Iraqi school-age children in Syria, only about 33,000 are currently enrolled, although the Government has given them full access to schools. In Jordan, the Government estimates 19,000 Iraqi girls and boys are in school, while at least 50,000 do not attend.

In a related development, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a meeting of officials from the Health Ministries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria in Damascus, Syria, starting Sunday, to discuss how to ensure delivery of health care to the Iraqis who have fled their homeland to neighbouring countries.

"We need to work with all partners to address the key health needs of Iraqis," WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Hussein A. Gezairy said, noting that the host countries' national health systems are being overwhelmed by the growing demand with thousands of people leaving Iraq every month.

Iraq reconstruction behind schedule

Reconstruction efforts are not proceeding as well as can be expected in Iraq and the government is to blame for many of the problems according to a new US report.

The report by the office of the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction says the Iraqi government is struggling to administer its budget for oil, public works and education.



The US congress created the inspector-general post (Sigir) to oversee how funds were being spent in Iraq.

The quarterly report by Stuart Bowen released on Monday questioned the practices of some US government contractors, but noted "significant strides" in small-scale US-funded projects.

In his report, Bowen said the handing over of completed US-funded rebuilding projects to the Iraqi government "has been off the rails" for about a year.

He said, as a result, the projects were being transferred without the Iraqi government's consent to locals who have little training or resources to sustain them.

"That raises grave questions about the sustainability of what the US has constructed," he said.

The report indicates a shift of blame regarding the rebuilding in Iraq.

Previously criticism has been directed at large US companies awarded contracts for reconstruction.

Media reports said last year that government estimates indicated as much as half the budget of some reconstruction projects had been spent on overhead costs.

The highest proportion of those overheads were incurred by the Halliburton subsidiary KBR in its oil-services projects.

KBR was one of several large US contractors awarded reconstruction projects in 2003 after the war.

Bowen's report showed serious problems including insufficient oversight, cost overruns and significant delays in the billion-dollar reconstruction programme of Bechtel national, another of the contractors.

Auditors said a contractual provision that required all Bechtel invoices to be paid within 10 days of receipt was "troubling" because it raised concerns "about the reliability of receipt review process".

Bechtel ended the majority of its projects late last year after three years in the country which saw 52 of its employees killed.

So far, more than $99.5bn has been pumped into rebuilding Iraq, of which $44.5bn was spent by the US on relief and reconstruction work since 2003.

The US has completed nearly 2,800 projects, worth about $5.8bn, constructing power stations and water treatment plants as of May 31.

But out of these, Bowen's report found that only 435 projects have been transferred to the Iraqi government, leaving more than 2,300 completed projects still under US companies.

The report details the failure of the $90m US-funded Dura power plant, Baghdad's principal supplier of electricity, after it was turned over to inexperienced locals who used the wrong fuel.

In some case, the US was still paying to maintain completed projects that have yet to be handed over to Iraq, according to the report.

"The failure of the asset-transfer programme raises concerns about the continuing operation and maintenance of US-constructed projects," it said.

Iraq's failure to effectively manage its capital budget was also blamed for the problems facing reconstruction efforts.

The report said the government spent only 22 per cent of its budget in 2006, but noted improved figures in 2007, and predicted an improvement of up to 50 per cent if the current trend continues.

Saudis back US plans in Mid-East
Saudi Arabia has pledged to explore the possibility of starting diplomatic relations with the Shia-led government in Iraq, a move long sought by the US.

Prince Saud said he was "astounded" by recent remarks by US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad, in which he accused Saudi Arabia of undermining efforts to stabilise war-ravaged Iraq.

"My explanation is that he must have been influenced by the atmosphere at the UN when he went to New York" [after serving as US envoy in Baghdad], he said.

Saudi Arabia has not had an embassy in Baghdad since the first Gulf War in 1990, despite pressure from the US after its forces led the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Saudi foreign minister told the visiting US secretaries of state and defence he would send an envoy to Iraq.

Condoleezza Rice called it an important step.

Prince Saud also said Riyadh supported and would attend a Middle East peace conference proposed by President George W Bush later this year.

"There is an international movement... Israel should respond to these pressures," the prince said.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: there is a resolution in the UN Security Council on Iraq looking at the extension of the force in Iraq as well as an expansion of its mandate. South Africa does participate in these discussions and we will brief you further upon finalisation of deliberations.]

KOSOVO

Secretary-General Welcomes Agreement on New Kosovo Initiative

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's statement on the new period of engagement on Kosovo:

The Contact Group has briefed me on its agreement on the modalities for further negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade. This effort will be led by a troika comprising representatives of the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States.

I welcome this initiative by the Contact Group. I hope that the new period of engagement will lead to agreement on Kosovo's future status, which remains a priority for the United Nations.

The international community must find a solution that is timely, addresses the key concerns of all communities living in Kosovo and provides clarity for Kosovo's status. The status quo is not sustainable.

The United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Kosovo (UNOSEK) will be associated with the process by standing ready to provide information and clarification on request.

The United Nations will continue to play a constructive role in the new period of engagement and continue its major role on the ground in Kosovo.

The Contact Group will report back to me by 10 December.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: South Africa does participate in all these discussions. We do believe the idea of the contact group is a good one and that this will be useful in gaining consensus on the status of Kosovo that will be accepted by all parties.]

Questions and answers
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, does the influx of Zimbabwean refugees to South Africa - estimates suggests 3 million - concern the South African government? Should your government be doing more to assist these refugees?
Answer I do not want to comment on the figure since this fluctuates. The reality is that we have many refugees in South Africa. All indications are that increasing amounts of Zimbabweans are entering South Africa daily. I saw yesterday that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs had paid a surprise visit to what is called a refugee settlement camp. They seem to be very concerned about the conditions in this camp. They will report to Parliament on this matter and we do clearly need to see what more we can do to assist these refugees.

This is a big problem for South Africa but as President Mbeki said, we cannot build a Chinese Wall between us and Zimbabwe. We must do all we can to help the Zimbabwean people resolve their challenges and so stop this influx into South Africa.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, we have been investigating for a while a number of Zimbabwean Intelligence Officers living in South Africa and harassing members of the opposition living in South Africa. Is this something your government is aware of? If so, what is your comment?
Answer This has not been brought to our attention but if you have such information it would be helpful if you could share it with the relevant departments - Safety and Security and Intelligence. They can then analyse this information and take the appropriate action where necessary.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, will South Africa be intervening between with the Taliban for the release of the hostages?
Answer We do not have any contact with the group who has kidnapped these hostages. We do not have any intention at this stage of beginning any facilitation. We believe that the matter is best left to the South Korean and Afghani governments, the UN and other roleplayers with better contacts in the region.

We will consider assisting if we are requested to do so but we do not have any plans at this stage.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, has South Africa been approached to offer more troops to Sudan? Will the 26000 hybrid force be peacekeepers or peace enforcers? A senior member of President Mbeki's advisory panel last week said that South Africa had been approached to host the Darfur peace talks. What is your position on this?

Answer The UN resolution is clear that many actions will be have to be carried out under a Chapter VII mandate. The details of this resolution is still being finalized. In a situation like this, the line between peacekeeping and peace enforcement is a very grey line. With so many troops in Darfur you will have to ensure that they have the capacity to deal with peace enforcement, under Chapter VII as well.

South Africa has committed itself to participating in this force. We already have a contingent in Darfur as part of the AMIS force. We will give serious consideration to increasing our presence within the hybrid force.

President Mbeki held discussions with a special envoy from Sudan yesterday. South Africa's leadership role with regard to this UN resolution on Darfur was discussed. There was no mention of us facilitating the Darfur Peace Process.

There is already a process that is underway. As I have said, a meeting will take place in Arusha tomorrow. The UN and AU special envoys will meet with signatories and non-signatories in an attempt to find a solution.

The challenge with Darfur is that the warlords keep splitting. We began with 3 and we now have 17. If the matter does go back to the Peace and Security Council and if we are asked to assist, we will consider it. But at this stage I believe it is more useful for us to support what is currently on the ground and there is no need for new initiatives.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, would you now describe the situation in Zimbabwe as a crisis?
Answer The IMF has just predicated that inflation in Zimbabwe will reach 100000% by the end of the year and this, by any standards is a serious problem.

The SADC Extraordinary Summit did task the SADC Executive Secretary to visit Zimbabwe to assess the economic situation and formulate recommendations. He is expected to brief Heads of State and Government at the Summit in 10 days. There is clearly a very serious problem. The Zimbabwean government has now indicated that they are fighting an economic war.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, is it our moral duty to assist Zimbabwe?
Answer Yes, it is incumbent upon South Africa to assist Zimbabwe in terms of our moral obligation and also in our own national interests. If we do not begin to assist the Zimbabweans solve their problems, the neighbouring countries - South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia - will not be able to sustain the levels of refugees.

President Mbeki has been asked to facilitate the political process. He is expected to brief the SADC troika in Zambia at the SADC Summit in two weeks. We will await Summit's recommendations for the way forward.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, when you see visual material of Zimbabwean's trying to enter South Africa, do you feel you could have done more to assist?
Answer What more could we have done? We have been urging the government to address the situation since the crisis developed with the land problem. We have tried systematically, bilaterally and multilaterally to assist the Zimbabweans resolve their crisis.

In the end, those pictures must be of concern to us all.

We must also be aware of the impact on our national programmes - it would be severely strenuous for us to begin absorbing 3 million refugees into our social structures.

We have to spend more resources, with the UN, to deal with the matter of accommodation for the refugees. It is clear that we cannot expect people to live in conditions as those described.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, the South African soldiers in Burundi are the last line of defence. Are we concerned that the FNL is regrouping for an attack? If so, will these forces be equipped to deal with an attack bearing in mind they come from a UN peacekeeping operation?
Answer I think that you are correct that you should deal with this matter with the Department of Defence. Our message to anyone thinking of renewing attacks on our forces is that we will have to respond very aggressively to try to protect our soldiers and ensure that such attacks not succeed.

Question inaudible

Answer We were at the Cabinet Lekgotla last week and this matter did not come up for discussion. I assume that the Department of Defence has its own contingency plans to deal with this matter.

I believe that prevention is better than cure and that we should, in consultation with other roleplayers, including the UN disabuse any members of the Paliphehutu-FNL of any such notions.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

2 August 2007

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