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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
16 November 2003

Annan and Italian President discuss Middle East hotspots

16 November United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi today discussed the troubled Middle East region, focusing on the importance of restoring calm to Iraq.

Emerging from this afternoon's forty-five minute meeting in New York, Mr. Annan said the two agreed that the international community must pool its efforts in response to the country's complicated situation. “We are convinced that a chaotic Iraq, in the middle of the Middle East, is not in anyone's interest,” he told the press.

Regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Secretary-General emphasized that fundamental issues must be tackled. “Obviously, I have always maintained that the best solution is land for peace, and the implementation of the UN resolutions,” he said.

At the same time, he underscored the importance of addressing the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, while calling for a comprehensive approach. “We need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as we work on the Iraqi crisis if we want to see peace in the Middle East.”

President Ciampi met with the Secretary-General following talks in Washington, D.C/, with United States President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. He said the earlier meetings had also touched on the need to gradually transfer sovereignty to a recognized and fully representative Iraqi government.

”It's in the interest of everybody to act as promptly as possible, because time is crucial,” he said, calling for cooperation among the Governing Council, the Coalition and the UN to achieve the goal.

He added that this involves an "enhanced political... substantial role of the United Nations.”

Concerning the Middle East, President Ciampi said, “we agreed that a lack of resolution of this conflict in Israel and the Arab countries will engender more extremism and will fuel terrorism.”

“We have to exert pressures with determination on both sides so that they start on the peace process,” he stressed.

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