UN Retracts Claims Of Belarusian Ivory Coast Arms-Embargo Violation

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations has retracted its claim that Belarus delivered three attack helicopters to Ivory Coast in violation of a UN arms embargo and apologized to Minsk for the embarrassing incident.

On February 27, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement expressing "serious concern" about the presumed delivery of helicopters from Belarus to the regime of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the breach of the embargo.

Minsk immediately and firmly rejected the reports of such deliveries.

On February 28, Ban reiterated his claim and said that the report was confirmed by "credible" sources.

A representative of Belarus's UN Mission told RFE/RL the same day that the report was simply not true. Gbagbo himself denied the report on February 28.

Today, the UN officially admitted that a mistake had been made and that no deliveries of helicopters from Belarus had been made to Ivory Coast.

Alain Le Roy, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, took the blame for the mistake and said that he offered on behalf of the United Nations a "profound" apology to Belarus's deputy UN ambassador, Zoya Kolontai.


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