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May 7, 1999



At its regular annual General Assembly session next month, the Organization of American States (OAS) will take up a declaration on freedom of expression.

Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Christopher Thomas said so Thursday as he addressed some 100 broadcasters from across the Americas at a reception the Organization hosted. The journalists were among those gathered in Washington for the three-day 29th General Assembly of the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), which was hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters.

Ambassador Thomas said it was significant they were meeting as the OAS was preparing for its own General Assembly which will take up, among other matters, proposals for a hemispheric declaration on freedom of expression. The declaration was designed to reaffirm freedom of expression as "a fundamental right essential to democratic societies" and one that "recognizes the essential importance of broadcast journalism."

In his remarks, IBA President Luis Humberto Tarsitano of Argentina underscored the importance of OAS support and expressed the desire for an even deeper solidarity and cooperation between communicators and the OAS.

James Kiernan, Interim Director of the OAS Department of Public Information, was also on hand to welcome the journalists, diplomats and other guests at the reception.