UN snubs Waldheim on its 50th birthday

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The Independent Online
For the United Nations it respresented a nasty dilemma: what to do about its former secretary general, Kurt Waldheim, when invitations had to be sent out for celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of its founding later this year. Asking Mr Waldheim to the events in San Francisco in June and New York in September appeared out of the question given that the former Austrian President has been banned from setting foot in the United States because of allegations that he was responsible for Nazi war crimes in the last war.

Yesterday, the organisation revealed how it would resolve the situation. Mr Waldheim will indeed not be receiving any invitation but - presumably for the sake of diplomatic consistency - neither will the only other living former secretary general, JavierPerez de Cuellar of Peru.

Luckily for the present incumbent, Boutros Boutros- Ghali, Mr Perez de Cuellar seems to have been understanding about his successor's plight and happily agreed to the arrangement. The Peruvian and Egyptian governments are known to be good friends.

So the protocol department in New York can breath more easily again. "It would have been a nightmare," one UN official said, had the Waldheim invitation gone out. "What would have happened? He would have landed at JFK [airport, New York] and the Americans wouldn't let him off the plane."

Mr Waldheim has denied the charges. The US added him to a list of people refused entry to the country because of their links with the Third Reich after a report on his war history was completed by the Justice Department.

The report implies Mr Waldheim has concealed his service during the Second World War with a German unit in the Balkans that was later found to have committed war crimes.