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I should be grateful if you would have the text of the present letter and its annex circulated as a document of the Security Council.
During that month, the Council held 18 consultations, seven of which were on Iraq, six public meetings, including three on Iraq, and two closed meetings with troop-contributing countries.
Despite the exceptional amount of attention given to the Iraq question, Africa, as usual, was not put aside. Consultations were held on Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Western Sahara, Sierra Leone and Somalia.
The Council also held three formal meetings to adopt resolutions on UNMEE on 14 March, MINURSO on 25 March, UNAMSIL, UNAMA and the humanitarian situation in Iraq on 28 March.
On that date, it also approved the reply of the President of the Council to the letter of the Secretary-General concerning the candidacies for ad litem judges at the International Tribunal for Rwanda.
In addition, the Council held monthly briefings, followed by consultations, on the situation in the Middle East and in Afghanistan.
Aside from the Iraq question, the focal point of the Guinean presidency was the workshop on 18 March on the topic “Proliferation of small arms and light weapons and mercenary activities: threats to peace and security in West Africa”.
During the month of March, the Council adopted seven resolutions and one presidential statement, and the President was authorized to deliver seven statements to the press.
The Guinean presidency was conducted in full transparency. Briefings for the States non-members of the Council were held following informal consultations, the programme of work was updated regularly, and statements to the press were posted on the web site of the presidency.
Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 19 March, after hearing a report from the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, Council members then proceeded to consider the situation during private consultations.
While welcoming the appointment of the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abou Mazen, the Special Coordinator indicated the three conditions to be met to achieve the common objective of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security: thorough institutional reform of the Palestinian Authority, rapid presentation of the Quartet road map and commitment by the Israeli Government to come to the negotiating table on that basis. He also described the situation along the Blue Line, which he considered stable, and that of the Golan Heights, which he characterized as calm.
After welcoming the appointment of Mr. Abbas to the post of Prime Minister and the desire for reform manifested by the Palestinian Authority, Council members once again urged the two parties, Israel and Palestine, to return to the negotiating table. Several launched an appeal for the rapid issuance of the road map, which was the only way to find a just and durable solution to the crisis. They urged Israel, on the one hand, and Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, on the other, to reinforce the calm atmosphere which was becoming established along the Blue Line and on the Golan Heights.