MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
24 September 1999
Visit to the United Nations
I will visit the United Nations in New York from 27 September-1 October and will deliver the Australian statement to the 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 29 September.
Participation in the UN General Debate provides an opportunity to convey our vision for the future of the UN, particularly the need to equip the organisation for the 21st century.
East Timor will be a major focus of my visit. INTERFET's deployment and the process of transition to a UN peacekeeping operation in East Timor will be a major topic of discussion in my meetings with key interlocutors, including Madeleine Albright, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Mr Mark Malloch-Brown, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.
I will also present a statement to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Small Island Developing States on 27 September, highlighting Australia's commitment to sustainable development of small island developing states (SIDS). Australia is one of the largest donors to SIDS, providing some A$470 million in grant aid in 1999-2000. I am also scheduled to visit the Commonwealth Small States Office (CSSO). Australia's funding of the CSSO is an example of our commitment to SIDS, particularly the Pacific Island States.
Another regional issue of great importance is the security of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea's recent movement towards a moratorium on further ballistic missile testing is a most welcome first step towards stabilising security in North East Asia. In recognition of this, I will meet the DPRK Foreign Minister, Mr Paek Nam-sun - the first such high level meeting since our formal relations were "interrupted" some 24 years ago. I will use this opportunity to encourage DPRK to continue cooperating in reducing tensions in North Asia and to discuss progress in addressing the humanitarian crisis in North Korea - an area where Australia has been helping with emergency food aid.
I will also meet the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Iran and Tunisia as well as the American Jewish Committee where prospects for the Middle East Peace process, disarmament and human rights issues will be discussed. Australia will lend its strong support to efforts to bring about full compliance by Iraq with its international obligations and to ease the pain being experienced by the Iraqi population.
I see the priority issues for the Australian Delegation as East Timor, nuclear and disarmament issues as well as budgetary and reform issues. The theme of the UN's role in humanitarian intervention to put an end to gross violations of human rights, which is emerging at this year's General Assembly, is one which I will take up during my discussions in New York. I will also be highlighting the need for real reform in the UN system and in the performance of its major agencies in my meetings with Mr Kofi Annan and Mr Mark Malloch-Brown. The delegation will also participate in the UN's various activities during the General Assembly to commemorate the International Year of the Older Person.
For the first time, the Australian delegation to the UN General Assembly this year will include a youth representative, Mr Andrew Hudson, former President of the United Nations Youth Association of Australia. Mr Hudson will be closely following negotiations on the biennial youth resolution in the General Assembly.
Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Mark Croxford 02 6261 1555
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