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Source: Secretary-General
15 April 2004




New York, USA, 15 April 2004 - Press Encounter with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

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We also obviously discussed the issue to do with the Middle East. And I would like to say that I think it is important that we ensure that the initiative that has been taken over the past couple of days leads to a real sense of movement and change there in the Middle East and I do not personally see that in any way displacing the Roadmap. On the contrary, I think the Roadmap is and remains the right way forward for the resolution of the Middle East peace process and we certainly strongly support it. In addition to those things I would like also to make mention of the UN Panel on the changes and challenges facing the UN that the Secretary-General established last November and to say how strongly we support the work of that Panel and I hope to see that report. In December?

Secretary-General: That's right.

PM: And I think that will also help us establish an agenda for the role that is also tackling issues to do with security but is also about issues to do with justice and hope for people who are presently without it in our world. I think that is all I need to say by way of introduction.

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Q: On the two issues we are discussing. One, with Iraq, is it a case now of waiting for Mr Brahimi to get back with his proposals or do you have alternatives of your own or with President Bush that you want to put forward? And on the Middle East peace process, do you feel any sense of being personally let down that President Bush has actually sidelined the Roadmap to peace and actually that seems to be very much on the sidelines now [inaudible]?

PM: ...

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In respect of the Roadmap I think there is a confusion here. I don't see the Roadmap as sidelined at all I'm afraid. Until we manage to get in place the basic elements of security so that we can then start, if you like, a cooperative, bilateral approach that the Roadmap sets out, then inevitably we are going to be looking for other things that can in the meantime allow us to make some progress. I will obviously talk a bit more about this tomorrow at our press conference with the President but I don't think we should ignore the fact that if it is the case that the Israelis, albeit unilaterally, disengage from a significant part of the West Bank and from the Gaza, well that is quite a big change. Whatever differences people have, let's not ignore that and let us use that as the means then of getting back into a proper negotiated series of moves that take us back through the Roadmap to the two State solution. Because, after all, that is what everyone wants to see.

SG: I think on the Middle East I believe that any initiative that is taking to influence this relationship should not preclude the future status issues which have to be settled between the parties and if what is being done is done in the context of the Quartet's Roadmap and the attempt of the international community to establish two States that is fine. The withdrawal from Gaza should be seen as a first step because we also have to deal with the issue of the West Bank and I would hope that what has happened does not foreclose the movement ahead and working through the Roadmap and ensuring that two States living in peace side by side, Israel and Palestine is established.

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ENDS


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