UN to Mark 60th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation on Jan. 24

NEW YORK - The United Nations is expected to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in a special session on January 24.

So far 82 member states have responded to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's appeal to hold a special session in the General Assembly marking the event. A majority of 96 of the 191 members is required to hold the session.

UN sources predicted that by the January 13 deadline there will be a large majority of states supporting the initiative.

Annan told a central Jewish figure recently that he is confident the special session would take place.

The United States spearheaded the diplomatic efforts to enlist the member states' support for the session, with the help of 25 European Union nations who joined the initiative. South Africa, India, Russia, Australia, Canada and South American states also support the initiative. Israel is simultaneously acting quietly in various states to ensure the session's existence.

Diplomatic sources in New York said that Arab and Muslim states had planned to belittle the significance of the UN's official auspices of the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation.

But in view of the determined American and EU support the Arabs and PLO observer in the UN backed down.

During the session, an exhibition of photographs of the life of the Auschwitz prisoners from Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington will be held in the UN building's entrance hall.