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


SOC/NAR/807
8 July 1999

MIDDLE EASTERN LEADERS SAY COOPERATING TO FIGHT CRIME
AND ILLICIT DRUGS WOULD BOOST PEACE


(Reissued as received.)


VIENNA, 8 July (UN Information Service) -- Israeli and Palestinian
leaders have agreed in separate talks with Under-Secretary-General Pino
Arlacchi, Executive Director of the Office for Drug Control and Crime
Prevention (ODCCP), that cooperating to fight drug abuse and organized
crime would significantly contribute to the peace process.

During the first leg of his official visit to the Middle East, from 4 to
7 July, Mr. Arlacchi met initially with Israeli President Ezer Weizman,
Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister David Levy, Shimon Peres, Israel's newly
appointed Minister for Regional Cooperation, and subsequently with Yasser
Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, as well as senior officials
of the Palestinian Authority.

Officials from both parties agreed that transnational crime and the drug
problem can only be tackled at the regional level, with successes in
combating these problems by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority
leading to progress and stability in the entire Middle East.

"Drug trafficking and crime are problems that know no boundaries. We,
therefore, have to work together in the Middle East to counter this threat
to the welfare of our societies", Mr. Arlacchi said in a meeting with Mr.
Arafat on 7 July.

During his meetings with officials from the Palestinian Authority,
Mr. Arlacchi expressed strong support for its efforts to set up a
functioning drug control system. The recently established Interministerial
Committee on Drug Control testified to the "determination of the
Palestinian leadership in this regard", he said.

He pledged to substantially increase ODCCP assistance to the Palestinian
Authority to combat drugs and crime in the area. Through a three-year
project, the ODCCP is currently providing equipment and training for the
Palestinian drug police, setting up drug-abuse prevention and treatment
centres and helping the Palestinian Authority draft and harmonize drug control laws.

In his meetings with Israeli officials, Mr. Arlacchi praised the
country's successes in fighting crime and illicit drugs, and particularly
welcomed its efforts to reduce drug abuse among youth. He discussed the need for
regional cooperation in combating illicit drugs and organized crime at
length with Mr. Peres.

Israel's Attorney-General, Elyakim Rubinstein, and other top officials of
the Justice Ministry reviewed with Mr. Arlacchi the country's efforts in
combating money laundering. The Israeli authorities said they had set up a
task force and were preparing a bill -- which could be adopted in the
autumn session of Israeli Parliament -- to tackle this problem.

While in Israel, the ODCCP Executive Director also spoke to the
International Conference on Migration, Culture and Crime in Ma'ale
Hahamisha about illegal migrant smuggling. "Bad governance and repression
push migration. The international community still lacks a system to deal
with these problems. This lack has created a large and profitable illegal
market for the smuggling of migrants", he noted.

On 8 July, Mr. Arlacchi left for Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt to continue
his discussions with top officials in the region. He is expected to return
to Vienna on 14 July.


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