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UN was not pressured to suppress internal report on Afghanistan - UN spokesman

UN was not pressured to suppress internal report on Afghanistan - UN spokesman

The United States did not pressure the United Nations to suppress an internal report produced following the bombing in Uruzgan earlier this month, a UN spokesman said today.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard, who on Tuesday had clarified that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had received no such pressure, returned to the issue today with fresh information from Kabul.

Mr. Eckhard said he had posed the question about possible US pressure - asked by reporters after an initial version of the report was leaked to the press - to the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, who replied that he had "absolutely not" been pressured by the US, "neither directly nor indirectly."

Standing by his earlier denial that the Secretary-General had not been pressured, Mr. Eckhard added that Mr. Annan "has not even discussed the report outside his own circle of advisers."

"The decision on how to deal with the report was made by Mr. Brahimi, within his competence as head of the UN [Assistance] Mission in Afghanistan" (UNAMA), the spokesman stressed.

On Tuesday, UNAMA reported that it had given the report to US and Afghan authorities, who are carrying out an in-depth investigation of the incident. The Mission also voiced deep regret over the loss of life and injuries to civilians, adding, "we are absolutely certain that the United States regrets that such a situation has occurred as well."

The Mission stressed that its report should not be confused with a probe of the bombing. The UN "was not involved in either an inquiry or an investigation but [was] simply responding to humanitarian needs as it does everywhere in the world in similar situations." The UN document was produced in conjunction with the local authorities for the Organization's own use "to determine what assistance would be required and could be provided" to the affected area.