November 7, 2001
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UN concerned about India-Pakistan hostility

Our Correspondent in New York

The United Nations is concerned about the current level of hostility between India and Pakistan, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette said on Tuesday.

On the issue of the UN mediating disputes between the two countries, she said the UN is open to such an option, hinting Secretary-General Kofi Annan could have a personal role in such talks.

However, she noted, "There first has to be a desire from the parties to use the UN."

But, she avoided commenting on the Indian contention that Pakistan sponsors cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.

Frechette said the UN would have a non-partisan role in the region, ready to help and co-operate with both countries. She added 'no magic' could be done.

Frechette emphasised the UN was working on strengthening the international legal framework to deal with terrorism, and trying to arrive at a consensus on the definition of terrorism.

In the past, she said, attempts to define terrorism have been hotly contested, but the September 11 terror attacks have removed much of the debate.

"One has to take a moral stand," she said. "The attack on thousands of innocents is, for whatever cause, unacceptable."

Her comments were made during a luncheon address for the Asia Society at the Union Club in Manhattan.

The organisation seeks to create better relations and understanding between Asia and the US.

Delving on the current war against terrorism led by the US, she said the chances of winning the war would increase if the rich countries make more of an effort to help the poor countries.

"If we want to protect the values that we hold dear, we must do better to bridge the gap between rich and poor," she added.

Frechette also touched upon the slight possibility of the UN providing a structure for governance in a post-Taleban Afghanistan, likening such a mission to those undertaken in Kosovo and East Timor.

Frechette, the first-ever UN Deputy Secretary-General, said conflict resolution and poverty are issues that are tied together.

Well-off countries, she said, need to rethink their economic aid policies and contribute to long-term strategies that address the roots of discontent in developing countries.

"People in [developing nations must] feel that they can hope for a future better than their parents," she said.

However, she was quick to add that poverty cannot be treated as an excuse for terrorist violence.

"It is an insult to the poor to say that poverty creates terrorism," she said.

"Terrorists have no right to invoke the poor to justify their actions," she added.

Frechette also briefly explored the suggestion that the UN undertake nation building in Afghanistan.

"By definition, we would become the government," she said.

However, she quickly downplayed the notion, stating that experience has shown that the acceptance of outside political forces in the country was unlikely.

Instead, Frechette explained the UN was concentrating on a variety of steps, both political and humanitarian, in response to the problems raised by international terrorist organisations like the Al Qaeda.

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

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