New Zealand says Lanka under scrutiny

“Their response on that was encouraging.“I received very strong assurances that elections will held in September in the north and the planning is being undertaken for that purpose and that that would provide a basis for some of those devolution recommendations.”Mr McCully said there were two ways of looking at Sri Lanka’s hosting of the Commonwealth meeting. “One is to simply point to the issues around reconciliation and say the hosting decision was one the Commonwealth shouldn’t have made. Well the fact is they have made that decision and the meeting is going to take place. New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said Sri Lanka’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November will focus international scrutiny on what progress it is making on human rights and reconciliation issues, the New Zealand Herald reported today.McCully met President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week in a visit to Sri Lanka, as well as Foreign Minister Professor GL Peiris and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. He said he had wanted to look at human rights and reconciliation issues that had provoked international concern “and make sure that New Zealand’s strong interest in those matters was fully registered in Sri Lanka.” Prime Minister John Key has already said he will attend the conference, held every two years, and McCully will go too. “The second way to view is to say ‘Look, this really does create an environment in which there is going to be quite strong international scrutiny of progress being made on the reconciliation front and it is important that they understand that that is the way we see the meeting and that we, therefore encourage further progress between now and November in that way.”He would be discussing his meetings with other foreign ministers, including Australia’s, Bob Carr. Mc Cully said he wanted to encourage progress to take place in Sri Lanka before the CHOGM meeting and to be clear that such progress would be “the framing through which many countries attending would be seeing their participation this year.”He said one of the big concerns was been lack of progress on devolution, and particularly devolution in the north, where the Tamil Tigers seeking self-rule were defeated. read more

Security Council welcomes Iraqi Governing Council sets up new UN mission

The resolution, adopted 14-0 with one abstention – Syria – was the 15-member body’s first formal action on the Governing Council, although a member of the Iraqi council addressed it last month and Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his top envoy for Iraq have already accepted the group as a valid partner for the UN.The new resolution said the Security Council “welcomes the establishment of the broadly representative Governing Council of Iraq on 13 July 2003, as an important step towards the formation by the people of Iraq of an internationally recognized, representative government that will exercise the sovereignty of Iraq.” Although established by the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, told the Security Council last month: “We now have an institution that, while not democratically elected, can be viewed as broadly representative of the various constituencies in Iraq. It means that we now have a formal body of senior and distinguished Iraqi counterparts, with credibility and authority, with whom we can chart the way forward.” Today’s resolution also set up for an initial period of 12 months the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), as requested last month by Mr. Annan in his report on the country, to coordinate the world body’s various humanitarian and other functions there. Mr. Annan called for UNAMI to have a staff of over 300, both international and local. Today’s resolution reprised two major themes from the 22 May text, resolution 1483, reaffirming “the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Iraq and “the vital role” for the UN in Iraq. read more