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En tournée au Proche-Orient, le Secrétaire général rencontre Ariel Sharon et Mahmoud Abbas - Centre d'actualités de l'ONU Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
14 March 2005

Annan discusses Middle East peace moves with Palestinian President Abbas

14 March 2005 On the second day of a visit to the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss Israeli disengagement from Gaza, economic reconstruction and the progress in the Palestinian Authority.

"With a clear determination and good will on both sides, a lot can be done," he told reporters afterwards in the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah of the efforts to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Asked about the separation barrier which Israel is building on occupied Palestinian territory, Mr. Annan, who yesterday met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said he had discussed with President Abbas the UN register, which would list claims for damage.

In an advisory opinion last year, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said construction of the wall, which Israel says it is building for security reasons, is illegal where it runs on occupied territory and should be torn down, with reparations made for any damage caused.

“I am very encouraged by what I have heard,” Mr. Annan told reporters of his meetings with Mr. Abbas and Mr. Sharon. “The international community is determined to work with both sides to press ahead with the peace process and the implementation of the Road Map, and I think the positive development here gives us a chance to re-energize the process and work to ensure that the day when the Palestinian State will be established, living side by side with Israel, will not be too long.

“I do not want to give the impression that it is going to be easy, there are hurdles along the road, but I think with a clear determination and good will on both sides, a lot can be done,” he said of the Road Map peace plan drafted by the diplomatic Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to take parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two states living side by side in peace, originally by the end of 2005.

Mr. Annan, who also met with Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa, laid a wreath at the tomb of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. This evening, he was scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with Israeli President Moshe Katsav.

Before meeting with Mr. Sharon yesterday, Secretary-General told reporters he had been very encouraged by recent developments in the region, including last month's agreement at a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas, whereby all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and Israel will cease all its military activities against all Palestinians everywhere.

Mr. Sharon thanked Mr. Annan for his stand against anti-Semitism and for his strong backing of the recent General Assembly Special Session marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

The two discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including Israel's pledge to remove all its settlements from Gaza later this year and its plans to close 24 settlements in the West Bank.

Mr. Annan reiterated his support for the Gaza disengagement and said he hoped it would lead to full implementation of the Road Map.

Earlier today, he addressed the staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and paid farewell to its Commissioner-General, Peter Hansen, thanking him for his "unflagging energy, commitment and leadership."

Mr. Annan assured the Agency's staff that Mr. Hansen was departing only because his nine-year tenure had been "long enough for anyone to have to live with the stresses and strains of such a job." Karen Koning AbuZayd will be Acting Commissioner-General, he said.

Accompanied by his wife, Nane, Mr. Annan laid a wreath at the memorial to Kamal Salem and Iain Hook, who were killed in separate incidents in the West Bank in 2002 while on duty for UNRWA.

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