Middle East

Iraq sanctions committee designates electricity-related items for quick approval

The Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Baghdad has established the first list of electricity-related supplies that qualify for "fast-track" approval - an accelerated process for getting humanitarian goods to Iraq, the United Nations announced today.

Humanitarian plight of Iraqis needs Security Council attention, UN official says

The head of the United Nations relief programme for Iraq today urged members of the Security Council today to focus their attention on the plight of the country's people.

Annan urges Islamic ministers to stay active in reviving Middle East peace talks

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged Islamic ministers meeting over the weekend in Doha, Qatar, to engage in efforts to revive talks in the search for peace in the Middle East.

On 1st anniversary of Israel's pull-out from Lebanon, UN envoy notes gains, perils

Commemorating the first anniversary of Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, a senior United Nations official today noted progress achieved over the past year but warned that an escalation by either side could wipe out what has been accomplished so far.

Middle East: UN envoy urges restraint following downing of Lebanese aircraft

Reacting to Israel's downing today of a small Lebanese aircraft that flew into its territory, a United Nations envoy in the region urged all sides to control their actions, but noted that frequent Israeli violations of the withdrawal line -- known as the Blue Line -- had contributed to heightened tensions.

Middle East: Security Council backs Annan's efforts, Mitchell panel's report

Members of the United Nations Security Council today voiced their full support for Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to resume dialogue among the parties to the Middle East conflict and expressed their backing for the just-released report on the origins of recent violence by a fact-finding mission led by former United States Senator George Mitchell.

Annan recommends extending UN force in Israel-Syria sector

Describing the situation in the Middle East as "potentially dangerous" pending a comprehensive settlement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending for six months the United Nations operation supervising the disengagement of Syrian and Israeli forces.

Iraq: UN's oil-for-food programme reports on progress, obstacles

The United Nations humanitarian effort in Iraq -- known as the "oil-for-food" programme -- has improved the lives of the country's people, but more remains to be done to meet their needs, according to a report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan released today.

Middle East: Annan says release of Mitchell Commission report offers hope

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said that the release of a fact-finding report on the events that sparked the latest Middle East crisis could spur positive developments in the volatile region.

International workshop urges rapid demining in Lebanon

A two-day workshop on ridding Lebanon of thousands of deadly landmines littering the territory opened today in Beirut amid calls for urgent action to begin mine clearance in the country's south.