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Annan to disband Jenin fact-finding team on Thursday, UN official says

Annan to disband Jenin fact-finding team on Thursday, UN official says

USG Prendergast
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan intends to disband a fact-finding team mandated to develop accurate information concerning recent events at the Jenin refugee camp, a senior UN official said today.

"He has come to that decision because he believes that the objections that the Government of Israel has to deployment of the mission are fundamental objections, and therefore they are most unlikely to be overcome," the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, told the press this evening after briefing the Council behind closed doors.

He added that Mr. Annan's position had been conveyed to the Council in a letter which would soon be published as a public UN document. "The Council is now considering its response to the Secretary-General's letter," Mr. Prendergast said.

Asked whether the team might continue its work in the absence of a visit to the Middle East, he said that option had been rejected because members were "very clearly of the view that in order to produce a credible report, a full report, an accurate report and a balanced report, they would need to go to Jenin."

Voicing regret at the outcome, Mr. Prendergast said the concept had actually been "an Israeli idea," and pointed out that the Secretary-General had only gone forward on the basis of assurances from Israel of full cooperation. The Under-Secretary-General also noted out that the Council, in a resolution tabled by the United States, had welcomed Mr. Annan's intention.