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


GA/10051
15 September 2002

Fifty-seventh General Assembly
Plenary
8th Meeting (AM)

AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT, MIDDLE EAST, UN REFORM AMONG ISSUES
DISCUSSED, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONTINUES DEBATE


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Statements

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, President of Nigeria, ...

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He said that, as a proud participant in international peacekeeping and peace building, his country was committed to stability for development.  In the Middle East, he reconfirmed commitment to Palestinian independence and Israel’s existence within safe and secure borders, welcomed the engagement of the “Quartet” and other co-sponsors of the peace process, and urged the parties to give that process a chance.  Noting with concern the threat that the situation in Iraq posed to international peace and security, he urged the parties concerned to exercise caution and restraint and resolve the matter in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

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PAKALITHA BETHUEL MOSISILI, Prime Minister and Minister for Defence and Public Service of Lesotho, ...

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He stressed that the right of a people to self-determination was a human right enshrined in the Charter, and that the people of Western Sahara and Palestine deserved no less.  ...

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KOFFI PANOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Togo, ...

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... Also of concern was the situation in the Middle East, where negotiations for a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the conflict were needed.  That should include both recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their right to a viable State, as well as the equally legitimate Israeli right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.

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MOHAMED BIN MUBARAK AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, ...

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Of particular concern to Bahrain was the security situation in the Middle East, he said, especially the situation affecting the Palestinian people.  He condemned terrorism as an enemy that had no religion, ethnicity, race or nationality.  Bahrain also urged Iraq to complete the implementation of Security Council resolutions, in order to avoid any confrontation that might threaten the States and people of the region.  He noted that the Arab Summit of March 2002 had provided a clear vision for peace in the region, one that found favour with the President and Secretary of State of the United States.  But, Israel, unwilling to honour the international conventions it had signed, had not put forward a similar vision for peace.  Further, the Middle East should be a zone of peace free of weapons of mass destruction, in particular, nuclear weapons.

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FAROUK AL-SHARA’, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that the state of confusion, ambiguity and tension that prevailed on the international scene today was essentially the result of an increasing tendency towards unilateralism, hegemony and monopoly over the fortunes of others.  The Middle East, for example, faced more vicious attacks than those experienced in previous colonial periods. Though Arab countries had condemned the attacks on the United States, blame had been transferred to them, even though elements of the Al Qaeda organization were present in more than 60 countries, including the United States.

Israel’s contempt for international legitimacy had provoked anger, he said, and the only way out of the situation was to make Israel abide by 28 relevant Security Council resolutions, which stress the Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967, safeguarding the rights of the Palestinian people, and an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.  Why should the world request Iraq to adhere to such resolutions if Israel was allowed to be above international law? he asked.  He also called for urgent efforts to make the Middle East a region free of all weapons of mass destruction.  All Arab countries were ready to establish such as zone, provided that Israel would also agree and place its nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Opposing unilateral measures, he saw no justification for igniting a new war in the Middle East.  Striking Iraq, which no longer occupied the land of others, while keeping silent about the Israeli occupation, was “blind bias” towards the real situation.  Security Council resolutions must be respected, however, and dialogue should be resumed between Iraq and the Secretary-General with the objective of reaching a political solution that meets Security Council requirements and grants hope to Iraq for peace and the lifting of sanctions.

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J.G. DE HOOP SCHEFFER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, placed great emphasis on universalism.  “Underneath our different feathers, we share a common skin:  principles we all adhere to or should adhere to, regardless of our religious beliefs or race”, he noted.  Those principles were merely “empty words” if they were not backed by real commitment.  Netherlands, out of choice and necessity, had demonstrated its commitment in four key areas of concern:  the development of the African continent; uncontrolled migration; the continuing threat of terrorism; and the situation in the Middle East.

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To deal with the problem of uncontrolled migration, he called for support for the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).  Along with repatriation, resettlement and recovery, UNHCR’s mix of policy areas had to be complemented by security.  That was the basis for the Netherlands’ involvement in peacekeeping operations, in such places as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Palestine.  In Afghanistan, a regime hostile to commonly shared values had been ousted, a government elected and reconstruction of a disrupted society was on the way.

In the Middle East, he saw the need for the return of the inspectors to Iraq and its compliance with Security Council resolutions, the creation of conditions that would allow for peaceful Israeli-Palestinian co-existence and the end to terrorism.  “Terrorism must stop”, he insisted, “not only because of the human suffering it causes, but also because it is utterly counterproductive.  The Palestinian people should ask themselves where this violence got them.”

JEAN PING, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie of Gabon, ...

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Noting that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict jeopardized all previous efforts, he urged the Israelis and Palestinians to resume the path of dialogue and negotiation.  ...

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LUVSAN ERDENECHULUUN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, ...

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... In the Middle East, Mongolia supported the efforts of the Quartet and the countries of the region towards a peaceful and just settlement of the conflict.  In addition, every effort should be made to impress Iraq with the need to comply with Council resolutions and, as a first step, to unconditionally accept weapons inspections. 

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