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  • Title: [SW News](Financial Times) AMHJ - Holbrooke focuses on Africa UN SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF DELEGATE SEEKS CONSENSUS ON CONTINENT'S PROBLEMS:
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  • Date :[]01-Jan-2000 01:41:28 pm ; 436 words

Holbrooke focuses on Africa UN SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF DELEGATE SEEKS CONSENSUS ON CONTINENT'S PROBLEMS:
84% match; Financial Times ; 01-Jan-2000 01:41:28 pm ; 436 words

Richard Holbrooke, whose diplomatic career began in Asia and matured there and in Europe, will focus on Africa when he takes over leadership of the United Nations Security Council today for the first time as US chief delegate. It will also be the last time he does so in the Clinton era.

Although that continent has hardly been sidelined this year (Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau were discussed in private consultations again this week) Mr Holbrooke has determined that January will be the Month of Africa.

Diplomats say a principal reason is his effort to draw the attention of Washington lawmakers. Many are openly hostile towards the UN, but Congressional interest and backing are essential for various peacemaking and peacekeeping projects, including the deployment of 10,000 troops in Sierra Leone and a new effort to resolve conflicts in Angola and Congo, which Mr Holbrooke visited during an 11-country fact-finding tour this month.

In a departure from the council's primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, at least a day will be devoted to discussing the Aids pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives and set back sub-Saharan economic recovery. The coup in Ivory Coast has been condemned - Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia, the general assembly president, called it "barbaric" - but there appears to be no plan to add it to the agenda.

Mr Holbrooke, 58, has been called his country's most successful diplomat since Henry Kissinger and there is speculation that he could be secretary of state in any new Democratic administration, following the route that Madeleine Albright took out of the UN. Until now, his public appearances in New York have been fairly few and brief, even during the tortuous negotiations over Iraq. He preferred instead to lobby in Washington for payment of the long overdue US debt to the UN. Then there were visits to East Timor and Africa, where his penchant for blunt speaking was often on display.

But agreement on firm measures for Africa has been rare, and Mr Holbrooke's prospects for success may be no better. After yet one more round of inconclusive debate this month, Kofi Annan, the UN's first black secretary-general, observed dryly: "If meetings alone could solve the problem I believe all Africa's problems would have been solved by now."

Still haunted by events in Somalia, where 18 American soldiers were killed in 1993, the US is reluctant to make commitments. Some diplomats dismiss this new Africa initiative as doing little more than substitute words for deeds. But Mr Holbrooke insists it is no gimmick.


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