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South American nations voice concern at spying allegations

NEW YORK – United National officials this week met with a group of South American foreign ministers who voiced their concern to the United Nations chief about reported large-scale surveillance programmes.

Mr. Ban noted, as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had stated recently, that UN human rights mechanisms had pointed to important rights and privacy issues at stake in connection with surveillance.

He reiterated the need to safeguard these fundamental rights, according to a readout of the meeting with Foreign Ministers Elías Jaua of Venezuela, who is also President of the regional bloc known as the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), Héctor Timerman of Argentina, David Choquehuanca of Bolivia, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, and Luis Almagro of Uruguay.

The ministers also voiced concern about the incidents that resulted in the rerouting of the Bolivian President’s plan last month. On 2 July, the aircraft carrying Evo Morales was not allowed by several European nations to fly over their airspace on suspicion that United States whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.

Mr. Snowden is a former National Security Agency contractor who has been charged with leaking details of several secret mass electronic surveillance programmes to the press.

The Secretary-General reiterated that a Head of State and his or her aircraft enjoy immunity and inviolability, the readout stated.

The question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the embargo against Cuba, the situation in Haiti, sustainable development and the hemispheric debate on the issue of drugs were also discussed.

These issues were also discussed in a meeting between Mr. Ban and Cristina Fernández, the President of Argentina. Among other things, the Secretary-General reiterated that his good offices to resolve the dispute over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) remain available, if both parties – Argentina and the United Kingdom – engage, according to a readout of the meeting.

Today’s meetings come on the eve of Tuesday’s Security Council debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security, which will be chaired by Ms. Fernández.

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