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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Plenary
9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/10159
24 September 2003

HEADS OF STATE, GOVERNMENT UNDERLINE NEED FOR CONCERTED ACTION TO PREVENT INERTIA, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

Speakers Tell Assembly of Need to Ensure ‘Advent of Century of the Global Village’


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Background

The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate. 

Statements

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ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA, President of Algeria, ...

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Turning to the Middle East, he said Palestinians were being denied the right to exist, as Israel continued to defer the settlement of the Palestinian problem, leading to an explosive situation threatening regional and global peace and security.  He asked that the international community step in more decisively to put “an end to this spiral”, and urged Israel to fully cooperate for a global, just and lasting solution including the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State.  He also expressed the need to help the Iraqi people establish their own institutions, and exercise unhindered control on their economy and natural resources.

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PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, President of Pakistan, said that the hope for a new age of cooperation and peace, free of ideological confrontations, that emerged following the fall of the Berlin Wall, had been dashed by a series of conflicts, lingering regional hostilities, and deepening poverty throughout the 1990s.  The tragedies of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and Kosovo, failure to end occupation in Palestine, brutal suppression of the Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination, unending war in Afghanistan and a series of crippling international crises had been capped by the terrorist atrocity of 11 September 2001.  And even though the response to that event had weakened Al Qaeda, it had not eliminated its associates and extreme terrorists bred in Afghanistan’s climate of war and international neglect.  The tragedy of 9/11 had transformed security policies and changed geopolitical calculations.  Pakistan itself had taken a strategic decision, based on principles of humanity and its national interest, to support the war on terrorism.

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VICENTE FOX, President of Mexico, ...

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Above and beyond Iraq, he said, there were other problems, particularly unresolved and escalating hostilities in the Middle East, ongoing conflict in Africa, and increasing tensions in Asia surrounding weapons of mass destruction.  It was time to ensure that diplomacy and dialogue pointed the way forward on those issues.  He appealed for peace and global cooperation so that security and development could flow unhindered.

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LI ZHAOXING, Foreign Minister of China, said that local wars and conflicts that flared up from time to time in many parts of the world were worrisome aspects of today’s international situation.  For example, although the Iraq war was over, peace in that country and the region remained elusive while the situation between Israel and Palestine was still in a state of instability.  In Africa, wars still raged in some countries and non-traditional security concerns such as terrorism, drug trafficking, weapons proliferation, the spread of diseases and environmental degradation had become more pronounced.

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ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, ...

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He said that as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Senegal continued to be concerned about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.  Too much blood had been shed, too much suffering endured.  Thus, negotiations on the basis of the Quartet’s Road Map must be resumed, and Israel warned that any attack on the physical integrity of President Yasser Arafat would bring incalculable consequences.  Moreover, the international community should cease making empty statements or the cycle of violence would still be unfolding in years to come.  International forces should be sent to monitor those borders that were uncontested by the parties to the conflict, while the disputed territories remained on standby in order to end the cycle of mutual accusations.

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PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, ...

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Turning to the Middle East, he said the recent resumption of violence between Israel and the Palestinians could render futile the Road Map to peace.  The root cause of the problem was the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the fact that no country could act as an honest broker in the region.  The United Nations should take the initiative and lead the process, he added.

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ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, ...

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Addressing the situation in the Middle East, he deplored the international community’s failure to find lasting solutions in the region.  President Arafat was an essential part of the solution to the conflict, and any attempt to sideline him would be detrimental to any peace initiative.  He called for the establishment of a Palestinian State and urged the international community to make that a priority.  ...

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JEAN OBEID, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, said that deviation from the United Nations spirit remained the source of repeated wars and injustices ever since the foundation, on the ruins of the Palestinian people, of an entity that did not recognize either its own borders, or those of others.  The international effort at Madrid to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict had adopted comprehensive and just approaches, resulting in principles that could not be reversed.  It had become certain to everyone, except to the arrogant in Israel, that there could be no security without a political solution, and no partial, peaceful, political solution without the comprehensive peace that embodied the spirit of the Madrid Conference and the integrated Arab peace initiative of the Arab Summit in Beirut.

Such a solution, he said, was based on the relevant international resolutions that had returned to Lebanon the remaining territory still under Israeli occupation, including the Sheba’a Farms; to Syria its territory up to the line of 4 June 1967; and which allowed Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.  Such a process should ensure the establishment of a sovereign, independent, and viable Palestinian State with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.  Developments on the ground, however, ran contrary to hope as the Israeli Government continued to build settlements, carry out extrajudicial killings, demolish houses and carry out pre-emptive arrests and assassinations.

Lebanon also suffered from persistent Israeli threats, aggressions and violations by sea, land and air, he said.  The international community should pressure Israel to end those violations.  Lebanese detainees and prisoners were still illegally held hostage without trial inside Israel, which, besides retaining the maps of landmines it had planted during its occupation of south Lebanon, still coveted the country’s water and other natural resources.

The failure to implement the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes put the entire Middle East in an explosive situation, he said.  The Government and people of Lebanon were eager to implement that right, which they considered to be legal, natural and moral.  The so-called “realistic solutions” to the problem should not even be raised, as they were contrary to the principles of international law and the spirit of justice.  The commitment to the right of return and the refusal to settle the refugees in Lebanon were at the core of the Lebanese consensus that had ended the war in Lebanon, resulting in the United Nations-endorsed Taef Accord.  Those options were the only ones that could bring about a possible settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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