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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
27 September 2008


27 September 2008
General Assembly
GA/10757

            Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly
Plenary
13th and 14th Meetings (AM & PM)



ON STATE SOVEREIGNTY, DISARMAMENT MATTERS, WORLD LEADERS URGE SOLIDARITY
OVER SELECTIVITY, AS ASSEMBLY CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE
 


Questions of national sovereignty, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation dominated the debate in the General Assembly today, with world leaders calling for solidarity and reform of the Security Council to help diffuse the world’s active and simmering conflicts -– in the Caucasus, Middle East and Korean Peninsula –- all of which carried powerful repercussions for neighbouring States and regions.

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Background

The General Assembly met today to continue its general debate.

Statements

PHAM GIA KHIEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam...

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On the follow-up to the Annapolis outcome, he reaffirmed support for the role of the Quartet, the League of Arab States and the United Nations, notably the Security Council, in finding a lasting solution in the Middle East.  Such a solution should recognize the inalienable rights of Palestinians to establish an independent State.  On Africa, he clearly realized the “organic” relationship between peace and development, and would work with the African Union and United Nations to find solutions to conflict on the continent.

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AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt....

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Regionally, Egypt was persistently involved in painstaking efforts to maintain “a window of hope” for an independent State of Palestine, he said.  Although the current situation might suggest to some that there was some hope for a real settlement, it was an issue that required genuine political will on the part of Israel and “we are quite sceptical” about the strength of that will and the conviction of Israeli decision-makers.  Their lax attitudes had resulted in the widely condemned and politically loaded settlement activity.  But, Egypt would not lose hope and would continue to work with everyone for the sake of “justice, stability and security for our region”.

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MOCTAR OUANE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mali...

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It was a global duty to undertake “vigorous” actions to secure peace, and he welcomed progress in settling conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Somalia and the Great Lakes region.  He also urged resuming talks in the Middle East, and the creation of a sovereign Palestinian State.

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WALID AL-MOUALEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, described the Middle East as one of the world’s most volatile regions, faced with mounting challenges.  Daunting as those challenges might be, they should not deter the search for ways to improve the situation, and Syria was an essential part of that effort by virtue of its geographic location, as well as the aspirations of its people.  For that reason, Syria’s President had called for the Damascus quartet summit attended by the President of France, the Emir of Qatar and the Prime Minister of Turkey.  By calling for the summit, Syria had stressed that a just and comprehensive peace was its strategic choice and it was striving to achieve it with partners who shared its vision.

“We all went to Annapolis, despite the ambiguity of the undertaking,” he continued.  Now, the question was, what had been achieved?  Had the promises to establish a Palestinian State before the end of the year been fulfilled?  Had Israel stopped building settlements?  Despite that lack of progress, Syria had entered into indirect negotiations with Israel, with mediation by Turkey.  The intent was to pave the way for direct negotiations.  That, however, required a genuine Israeli will capable of accommodating the exigencies of peacemaking.  It also required the will to include Middle East peace on the United States list of priorities, after years of deliberately ignoring it.

He stressed Syria’s support for the Palestinian people’s rights to recover their occupied land and establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, and underlined the need to restore the Palestinian national unity through national dialogue -- a goal his country was working towards as current Chairman of the Arab Summit.

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SAYYID BADR BIN HAMA AL BUSAIDI, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman...

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On the situation in Palestine, he criticized the harsh Israeli policies represented by the closure of crossing points, erection of checkpoints and the perpetuation of settlements, which, he said, made the daily lives of Palestinians difficult.  He urged the international community to intensify its efforts to make Israel shoulder its responsibilities, in view of the importance and the ultimate inevitability of a peace settlement as the only option for joint and peaceful coexistence between the region’s peoples.  At the same time, Oman’s commitment to peace was a fundamental and strategic one, in the realization that peace was a collective responsibility that had to be shouldered by the international community without weakness, regardless of the difficulties that might be encountered.

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MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Algeria...

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On the Middle East, he said he was pleased to note the positive developments and encouraged all people to persevere in the process of reconciliation.  There could not be peace without the settling of the Palestinian question.  There was need to remind people that a just accord in the Middle East needed to restore the Palestinian peoples’ historic rights and return all property occupied by Israel.  He appealed to the international community to step up its assistance of humanitarian aid to ease people’s suffering.

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SHAIKH KHALID BIN AHMED AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain...

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On the Middle East, he said there were many issues, the most pressing of which was the need for a just and comprehensive peace settlement of the Palestinian question.  He cited the Arab Peace Initiative in that respect, and called for the withdrawal from occupied Arab Syrian Golan and remaining Lebanese territories.

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States had a duty to review the idea of developing new regional frameworks to overcome long-standing challenges, including an organization of Middle East countries to discuss issues openly. He accepted peace as a strategic option for solving conflicts and opening a new chapter for historical rapprochement.
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SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of United Arab Emirates...

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A dedicated supporter to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, he expressed concerns about Israel’s growing lack of interest in negotiation.  Only with pressure from the Security Council, the international community and the members of the diplomatic Quartet would relevant resolutions be implemented.  Such pressure could thus end occupation, ensure adherence to the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative, and establish an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, while, at the same time, ensuring Israel’s security.

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AÏCHATOU MINDAOUDOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Niger...

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Regarding the Sudan, she said Niger welcomed the nomination of the joint mediator of the United Nations and African Union, Djibril Yipènè Bassolé, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso.  That provided new momentum to improve the situation in the country.  She also hoped the Palestinian-Israeli talks in Annapolis would continue the momentum towards peace in the Middle East, where there would be two States living side by side with mutually recognized boundaries.

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MOHLABI TSEKOA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Lesotho...

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Finally, he said the Security Council must be an honest arbiter in conflicts.  It should not turn a blind eye to a situation in one country and then act when a similar situation obtained in another.  The Council must also be reformed in such a way that integrity and credibility enabled it to carry out its lofty mandate more efficiently.  He went on to say that the international community should support the people of Zimbabwe in its historic feat of having set aside political differences for a Government of national unity.  The Council should also intervene more decisively in the Middle East, Western Sahara and the Balkans, and in ending the unilateral embargo against Cuba.

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DORA BAKOYANNIS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece...

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Noting challenges, including, among others, migration, human trafficking, terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she said such issues would require “the patience of Job to endure and the strength of Hercules to confront”.  As individual States, there was no hope of marshalling the strength to contemplate -– let alone battle -– the dangers the world faced.  But together, through the United Nations, States could find the resolve not only to confront the challenges, but also to subdue the threats that they posed for humankind.

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KOFI ESAW, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Togo...

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International conflicts -- such as those in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Darfur -- could also benefit from similar efforts towards cooperation and efforts should be made to find peaceful resolutions built on dialogue and discussion, he said.  The adoption of a legally-binding instrument to prevent the illicit trade in small arms would also help to reduce conflicts and create global peace and security.  Each country had a responsibility towards building that global peace since only then would the international community be able to focus on its other challenges, such as poverty, illiteracy and disease.

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For information media • not an official record

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