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Noting Yugoslavia's cooperation, Annan suggests lifting arms embargo

Noting Yugoslavia's cooperation, Annan suggests lifting arms embargo

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has suggested that the Security Council consider lifting the arms embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, saying that the situation in that country had changed considerably.

"The new authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are cooperating constructively with the international community in efforts to bring peace and stability to the Balkan region," the Secretary-General writes in a letter to the President of the Security Council released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

In 1998 the Council adopted Resolution 1160, which said that the Council would "reconsider the prohibitions" against arms sales to Yugoslavia if the Belgrade Government began a substantive dialogue with the leadership of the Kosovar Albanian community, withdrew the special police units and stopped the activities of security forces against civilians.

The resolution also required Yugoslavia to allow humanitarian groups and diplomatic representatives access to Kosovo; accept a mission by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that would include a new and specific mandate for addressing the problems in Kosovo; and facilitate a mission to Kosovo by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights before the restrictions would be lifted.

In his letter, Mr. Annan expressed the belief that Yugoslavia had complied with the provisions of the Council's resolution, which was adopted in response to the situation in Kosovo. The Secretary-General also notes that the Council President, in a statement earlier this year, welcomed the close contact between the Yugoslav Government, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the international security forces. That statement also stressed the importance of the substantial dialogue initiated by Kosovo political leaders and the Yugoslav authorities.

Yesterday, a draft resolution on lifting the arms embargo on Yugoslavia was introduced to the Council, where members were considering it before a scheduled vote on Monday.