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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Plenary
8th Meeting (PM)
GA/10158
23 September 2003

UNITED NATIONS MUST REFORM TO MEET OBJECTIVES IN INCREASINGLY COMPLEX WORLD,
GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD, AS ANNUAL DEBATE CONTINUES


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Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its general debate.

Statements

VAIRA VIKE-FREIBERGA, President of Latvia, ...

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New challenges to world security were coming to the fore, she said, and older ones were showing no sign of abating.  Pointing to the Middle East, she said the Road Map was the only feasible means for ending the “dangerous impasse” both sides had now reached.  The alternative was “a continuing escalation of bloodshed, a never-ending cycle of killing and mounting mutual hostility”.  In the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, where repressive regimes were removed by force through outside intervention, the military measure undertaken by the United States and its allies would need to be followed by international efforts to help rebuild those societies and economies.  Latvia had sent humanitarian assistance and military medical personnel to Afghanistan, and had dispatched a military contingent to maintain order in post-war Iraq.

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MEGAWATI SOEKARNOPUTRI, President of Indonesia, ...

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It had been hoped, she said, that Indonesia, with its legacy of tolerance for human differences, would be spared by international terrorism.  However, Indonesia had responded to the attack by adopting firm legislation to prevent and eradicate the threat posed by terrorism, to dismantle terrorist cells and to prosecute their members.  Its predominantly Muslim population had fully supported that national policy, and large and active Islamic organizations and prominent Islamic figures had joined in condemning the terrorist acts.  And although terrorists often claimed to be fighting in the name of Islam, they were but a minority; adherents of “mainstream” Islam practised moderation and were strongly opposed to violence.

Yet, she continued, it must be acknowledged that the motives and justifications employed by that terrorist minority concerned the unjust attitude of the big Powers towards Islamic countries, particularly with regard to resolving the Middle East conflict.  An absence of justice, exacerbated by a feeling of being ignored and sidelined, had cultivated a climate of violence.  To combat that phenomenon, world leaders should open their hearts and address the crucial issues of world peace, human welfare, and the destiny of the human race.  Moreover, those leaders of countries, whose citizens had become the primary targets of terrorist groups, should review their conventional anti-terrorism policies, particularly in dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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JEAN CHRÉTIEN, Prime Minister of Canada, ...

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... As for Israelis and the Palestinians, he said despair was not an option.  “Our goal must remain a political solution based on two viable States, Israel and Palestine, within secure and recognized borders.”

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SABAH AL-AHMAD AL-JABER AL-SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, ...

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Expressing concern about the recent escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, he said that, despite international efforts, Israel persisted in its policy of backtracking on its commitments, undermining promising initiatives while paying no heed to potential negative consequences.  Kuwait demanded that Israel fulfil its obligations in connection with relevant United Nations resolutions, the land-for-peace formula and bilateral accords signed with the Palestinian Authority.  ...

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LOUIS MICHEL, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, ...

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Turning to the Middle East, he said the Palestinian side needed to eschew random violence, while the Israeli side should move away from favouring the use of force, as there was no alternative to the Road Map.  ...

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YURIKO KAWAGUCHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the threat of terrorism affected all countries.  Japan expected a new Security Council resolution that would pave the way for Iraqi self-governance and a more prominent role for the United Nations in the country’s reconstruction.  Regarding the Middle East conflict, she said the Road Map had reached a critical stage and called upon both sides to exercise the utmost restraint.

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