Speaking to a group of eight Palestinian journalists visiting UN Headquarters in New York yesterday, the Secretary-General said he was happy that US President George W. Bush had reasserted that he intends to press ahead with the Quartet's so-called Road Map, and noted that British Prime Minister Tony Blair also agreed that the group should move forward with the plan as soon as possible.
"I would hope that now that Abu Mazen has been appointed Prime Minister, the Road Map will be released and the parties can sit at the table to discuss its implementation," Mr. Annan added.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General noted that, unlike the sequential approach that had been tried before, which he said "has not worked," the plan places parallel demands from both parties and envisages a monitoring mechanism to ensure that both parties are performing. "I am particularly happy that the Quartet is determined to move ahead with the plan, and I hope that we can work with your government, and also with the Israelis," he said.
Meanwhile on the situation in Iraq, the Secretary-General told the journalists the crisis has highlighted the significance people around the world place in the United Nations, and he pledged that UN humanitarian aid would flow back into the country as soon as practicable.
A major point of interest about the crisis was the fact that the peoples around the world joined in, pleading for a peaceful settlement, insisting on the role of the UN, Mr. Annan said.
"To have this many people out there demonstrating for peace. . .and the attention they focused on the UN is an indication that, for governments and peoples around the world, what happens in the Security Council is important, and they expect a lot of the Council, which also puts quite a lot of challenge on us," he said.