The Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, has told the United Nations General Assembly it is facing a humanitarian disaster in East and West Timor. The Minister said those responsible for atrocities must be brought to justice and joined UN Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson, in her call for an international commission of inquiry into the violence in East Timor.

Speaking about Northern Ireland, the Minister told the General Assembly he was confident there would be no meaningful support for a return to violence. He said we have turned the corner and there must be no going back. The Minister talked of the current review of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and said while it was far from certain that it will succeed there is no good reason it should fail.

The Minister's speech to the General Assembly has traditionally been an annual statement of Irish foreign policy and this year dealt with everything from the development of small island nations to nuclear proliferation. Mr Andrews said among Ireland's priorities were reducing the debt burden on developing nations and reversing the decline in development assistance.

The Minister has spent the last week at UN headquarters in New York campaigning in support of Ireland's bid for a two-year term on the Security Council. By next Thursday, he will have met his counterparts from up to 60 different nations.