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

13 March 1998




Kofi Annan says he will call on parties to persevere, fulfil commitments under Oslo Accords,
in official visit to region later this month

Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the twenty-fifth session of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in Doha, Qatar, from 15 to 19 March, to be delivered by his Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi:

It gives me great pleasure to extend my best wishes to the twenty-fifth session of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. I would like to congratulate Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, the Foreign Minister of Qatar, on the assumption of the chairmanship of the OIC Foreign Ministers' Conference.

I wish at the outset to express my gratitude for the support provided by the OIC and its current Chairman, President Seyed Mohammad Khatami of Iran, to my recent mission to Iraq. Prior to the mission, I was encouraged by the OIC's strong backing for such an endeavour. With the successful conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Iraqi leadership, I was of course relieved that hostilities could be averted. And I am now gratified that the Security Council has backed the agreement by its unanimous vote on resolution 1154 (1998).

I am aware that the OIC has expressed great concern at the humanitarian situation in Iraq, while calling on the Iraqi leadership to fully implement all Security Council resolutions. The expansion of the "oil-for-food" programme should alleviate the humanitarian suffering of the Iraqi people without diluting the disarmament regime. I know you share my hope that someday Iraq will be able to rejoin the family of nations.

This meeting takes place less than four months after the eighth summit of the OIC in Tehran, and will no doubt achieve further progress in the important work of your organization. I was pleased to attend that summit and to engage in such fruitful discussions about a range of urgent issues and about improving cooperation and coordination between the OIC and the United Nations system, including the specialized agencies, programmes and funds.

That cooperation is wide-ranging, covering areas of mutual concern such as development, education and environmental protection. It is based on shared principles of universal peace, social and economic progress, mutual understanding and tolerance within and between States. Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter envisages just this sort of contact. It is natural that we should work together.

Among the common activities of our respective organizations are efforts at peacemaking and preventive diplomacy in a number of areas.

In Afghanistan, peace efforts by the OIC have been well coordinated with my Special Envoy as well as with the activities of the United Nations Special Mission. I regret that success has proved elusive. But the lack of substantive progress in reaching a peaceful solution cannot be attributed to the peacemakers but to the Afghan parties themselves. We have to persist in our efforts to convince the Afghan leaders to rise above narrow, factional interests in the broader name of peace. It is my hope that, with the support of neighbouring and other interested States, we can make progress in ending the terrible suffering to which the Afghan people have been subjected.

The situation in the Middle East remains a major preoccupation. I regret the continuing stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Both sides must persevere; they must fulfil their commitments under the Oslo accords; they must make the necessary choices for peace. With so much momentum built up, and with so many lives lost in the name of peace, it would be not only tragic but risky to turn back. I will be bringing this message to the parties later this month during my first official visit to the region as Secretary-General.

The peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires the continued support of the international community. The United Nations, for its part, remains on the ground with the biggest civilian police mission in our history. In The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia continues its efforts to prosecute those responsible for war crimes and atrocities. Our mission is two-fold: peace and justice.

In these and other areas, I look forward to deepening the ties between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Closer collaboration holds great promise: for the maintenance of international peace and security, for the economic and social advancement of the world's people, and as a model for how much a regional organization and the United Nations can achieve by pooling their resources, expertise and ideals. In that hopeful spirit, please accept my best wishes for success in your important deliberations.

* *** *
For information media - not an official record