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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · Geneva


PB/02/03/05
5 March 2002

Geneva press briefing

REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE

Marie Heuzé, the Director of the United Nations Information Service at Geneva, briefed journalists about the 3 March vote; UN reaction to the situation in the Middle East; UN reaction to the earthquake in Afghanistan; the Secretary-General's comments welcoming the elections in Kosovo; and upcoming events and new documents.

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The Middle East

Mrs. Heuzé said that the rapid deterioration of the situation in the Middle East was very worrying to the Secretary-General and the United Nations. In a statement issued late yesterday, Mr. Annan said the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians must be brought to a halt. He strongly urged all concerned to exercise maximum restraint and to remember that in the end there will still have to be a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. He strongly believed that only the resumption of a meaningful dialogue will facilitate the achievement of a lasting ceasefire and a just, lasting and comprehensive solution. The statement was available in the press room in English and French.

Other senior UN officials have also issued similar statements. Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), yesterday urged the Israeli Government to heed the United Nations Secretary-General's call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli Defence Forces from refugee camps in the occupied Palestinian territory. His call followed the re-entry of Israeli troops into Jenin Camp and reports that the Israeli security cabinet has decided to pursue a policy of entering more refugee camps. His comments were available in the press room in English only. There was also another statement by High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson issued in Bahrain on Sunday in which she called with great urgency on the leaders of the region to show the necessary political will and courage to bring the violence to an end. She urged the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to provide a political way forward.

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