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Annan Condemns Easter Eve Bombing in Lebanon

We've been following events in Lebanon, here and here. UN News Service reports: "Late Saturday, an explosion in Beirut killed two people and injured at least eight others. In a statement released in New York, a spokesman for Mr. Annan said the Secretary-General was "especially saddened that this latest attack, the third in Lebanon in only a week, was carried out on the eve of Easter, just as many of the nation's Christians were preparing to attend mass." Urging an end to the bloodshed, the statement stressed that the Lebanese people should be allowed to decide their country's future free of violence and intimidation."
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NY Times Editorial: The U.N. Fights for Its Future

"Secretary General Kofi Annan has begun that [reform] process by calling on member states to approve a wide range of reforms at a special General Assembly meeting this September. We strongly endorse Mr. Annan's agenda, especially his call for developed countries to establish timetables for living up to their promises to commit 0.7 percent of their gross national incomes to development aid by 2015 (the United States now contributes 0.18 percent) and for poor countries to come up with strategies for putting this aid to effective use." Read More
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WP: UN Report Says Assad Threatened to Harm Hariri

"Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri with "physical harm" last summer if Hariri challenged Assad's dominance over Lebanese political life, contributing to a climate of violence that led to the Feb. 14 slayings of Hariri and 19 others, according to testimony in a report released Thursday by a U.N. fact-finding team." Full Article
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Lebanon Assassination Probe

From MSNBC: "A U.N. report into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri concluded that Lebanon's investigation into the killing wasn't satisfactory and a new international investigation is needed. The report, released Thursday, says there was a "distinct lack of commitment" by Lebanese authorities to investigate the crime, and the investigation was not carried out "in accordance with acceptable international standards."
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UNDP Breathes Life into Banda Aceh

"A major drive is under way to provide employment for an estimated 40,000 job seekers in the tsunami-hit Indonesian province of Aceh. International agencies have laid out plans to engage Acehnese in rebuilding their homeland in the next 3 to 5 years. Three months on, Banda Aceh's river mouth seems ready to breathe life again to a once bustling fish market. A project called Cash-for-Work under the United Nations Development Programme, was partly instrumental for this clean-up." Read More
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CNN Transcript: Sec. Albright Discusses UN Reform

[CNN'S JOHN] KING: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for a broad reform of the United Nations, including expanding the Security Council and increasing its emphasis on development, security and human rights. Joining me to discuss Annan's proposals and more is the former secretary of state and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright. She's now with the Albright Group. Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. Let's start from one of the big issues, at least from the United States' perspective, or the Bush administration's perspective, in these U.N. reforms. Kofi Annan says he wants to find a more polite way, if you will, for the U.N. to debate and to have an actual mechanism, if there is a question, as there was in Iraq, of whether the United Nations should endorse military force. Can he make that work? MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's difficult. I'm very much in favor of the things that the secretary- general has suggested and the fact that he really has come out with a full reform package. He did a lot of work in getting opinions from this high level panel, and he's talked to a lot of people. And so I think he's come forward with a full package. But the hardest issue is always about the use of force. And the Security Council is supposed to deal with issues that are threats to peace and security. And I think, for the most part, it would be good if we were able to come to some general agreement about it. But ultimately, the United States will act unilaterally if it has to. We used to say multilaterally if you can, unilaterally if you must. But I am all for having a discussion about this. I think it's a very... KING: Is it a waste of time, though, to try to create a mechanism, like a rules of Congress in which you debate force, or is it just as it's always going to be, if somebody disagrees, move on?
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Charity Rugby Nets $3.35 Million for Tsunami Relief

UN News Service: "The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received its largest single donation ever from a sporting event - nearly $3.35 million from a fundraising rugby game between the northern and southern hemispheres held earlier this month at Twickenham, England, to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami."
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Annan: Syria Will Leave Lebanon

"Syria will completely withdraw its troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday. In meeting with Annan on the sidelines of an Arab summit in Algiers, Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to present a firm timetable by early April for a full withdrawal of his country's forces from Lebanon. Assad confirmed his commitment to U.N. Resolution 1559, which calls for a Syrian withdrawal." Read more...
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Defining Terrorism

From the Washington Post: "[State Department spokesman Adam] Ereli said, the United States appreciates Annan's effort to change the institution and to tackle a range of politically sensitive development and security issues. He said Annan also provided a "positive emphasis on the importance of promoting freedom and respect for human rights." Delegates from the developing world voiced concern that Annan's proposals -- particularly his call for an anti-terrorism convention before the end of next year -- go too far in accommodating the interests of the United States and other powerful countries. Annan will travel Monday night to Algiers to try to generate support for his ideas at an Arab League summit. But Arab leaders are expected to object to his proposal that the treaty define terrorism as any act that is "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or noncombatants" to intimidate a community, government or international organization."