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Source: Department of Public Information
12 March 2004



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good Afternoon,

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**Palestinians

The Secretary-General said this morning that the situation between the Palestinians and the Israelis remains extremely tense, with no discernible progress in peace efforts.

At the same time, he told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Israeli Prime Minister’s announcement of a plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip settlements is encouraging, and he looks forward to seeing a timetable for that.

He added, “An evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements should be seen as part of a broader process, an interim step that could revitalize stalled peace efforts, consistent with the Road Map”.  We have copies of his statement upstairs.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  What’s the position of the Secretary-General on the great Middle East initiative put in place by the Bush administration?

Spokesman:  Seeing that this is being discussed among governments and he’s not going to impose his views at this time.

Question:  Mr. Larsen is not going to participate in that summit next week?

Spokesman:  The answer is no.  We did check for you the last time you asked that question and neither Mr. Larsen or anyone else has been invited to that summit, anyone else from the United Nations.

Thank you very much.
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