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


GA/9603
23 September 1999


CONVENTION TO REPATRIATE AFRICA'S ILLEGALLY TRANSFERRED CAPITAL

CALLED FOR BY NIGERIA'S PRESIDENT IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADDRESS


Assembly Continues Debate; Hears Three Heads of State, Two Foreign
Ministers, Monaco's Crown Prince, President of Palestinian Authority

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The President of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, addressing the Assembly for the second consecutive year, told the Assembly, "The rights of people do not diminish with the passage of years or with oppression, and our people have proven they deserve life and freedom and an independent State". The right of the Palestinians to establish their independent State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif, or Jerusalem, as its capital, would provide the definitive guarantee for permanent peace in the Middle East and validate the Charter, as well as numerous United Nations resolutions over 51 years.

International sponsorship for the Middle East peace process was the guarantee for its definite success, he continued. The absence of the international role would reverse the fragile situation in the region to zero. The international community must accelerate its push to revitalize the peace process on all tracks. A just and comprehensive permanent peace in the Middle East would endure if guarded by international legitimacy and by efforts to implement the resolutions regarding all its aspects.


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Assembly Work Programme

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AMRE MOUSSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, ... In the Middle East, he said, the peace process, which was of central importance for the restoration of stability and the establishment of a comprehensive peace throughout the region, was now heading towards a new and positive stage. He hoped that would lead to a comprehensive peaceful settlement, which would establish the Palestinian State, put an end to the occupation of the Syrian and Lebanese territories and ensure security for all. He maintained, as always, that a comprehensive peace meant Israel's withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied in 1967, the establishment of the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital, the achievement of security for all, and the establishment of normal relations between the Arab States and Israel. He had hoped that the Arab-Israeli conflict would come to an end before the end of the twentieth century. That hope was still alive.

He said that Arab-Israeli conflict was not the only problem in that vast region. There were other problems such as the Western Sahara in North Africa, and the question of Sudan, which was high on Egypt's list of diplomatic priorities. Also, the situation of Iraq raised numerous questions, which did not have a bearing on the Government alone, but rather on the plight of its people and the suffering of its children. An objective and positive review of the situation of that important brotherly country had become necessary. That review should proceed from the premise that there were no everlasting sanctions and that people had a right to move on from the mistakes of the past. Indeed, Iraq made a grave mistake when it invaded Kuwait. A mistake, however, could not be corrected by a policy that would lead to the collapse of an entire society. Thus, he was following closely the efforts aimed at the suspension of sanctions, which should be a first step towards the lifting of sanctions.

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YASSER ARAFAT, President of the Palestinian National Authority, called on the United Nations to continue its role in eliminating all forms of occupation and strengthening the foundations of peace throughout the world. The coming Millennium Summit should represent a decisive deadline for achieving peace in the Middle East. He looked forward to Palestine's participation as a Member State of the United Nations and looked forward to welcoming all to the Bethlehem 2000 celebrations as the Palestinians marched toward peace with their new partners in the region.

International sponsorship for the Middle East peace process was the guarantee for its definite success, he continued, extending thanks to the European, Middle Eastern, United States and United Nations envoys. The absence of the international role would reverse the fragile situation in the region to zero. The international community must accelerate its push to revitalize the peace process on all tracks. A just and comprehensive permanent peace in the Middle East would endure if guarded by international legitimacy and by the implementation of resolutions concerning all its aspects.

The catastrophe that had uprooted the Palestinian people from their home 51 years ago had been one of the greatest tragedies of the century, he said. The question of Palestine refugees was the oldest refugee question in the contemporary world. Four million Palestinian refugees lived in exile and refugee camps, deprived of their legitimate right to return to their land. The right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif, or Jerusalem, as its capital, would provide the definitive guarantee for permanent peace in the Middle East. It would also validate the Charter of the United Nations and its numerous resolutions over 51 years, beginning with resolution 181, which had called for two States to be established in Palestine, one Jewish, which was Israel, and the other Arab, which was Palestine. "The rights of people do not diminish with the passage of years or with oppression, and our people have proven they deserve life and freedom and an independent state.

He said there were two requirements for peace to be complete. One was to reach a final settlement on all tracks and the other was to gain international support for achieving a better economic situation toward prosperity in the region. The Palestinian economy needed to be lifted out of the miserable situation in which it had lain during the years of occupation.

Further, he added, those stepped-up efforts to achieve development during the coming new millennium were needed all over the world to boost reassuring positive developments. There was tangible progress on the great African continent in conflict resolution, economic and social development. International attention had been given to the Balkans and the statute of the International Criminal Court had been adopted. Nevertheless, the prevailing problem remained, that of extreme poverty and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, at individual, country and regional levels. "We must seek creative means beyond hasty and temporary remedies", he said, calling for a new North-South partnership in which the people of the South strove to achieve those remedies while those of the North accepted partnership and a realistic, just willingness to share. There should be one set of criteria and one standard for all cases and all places. That would lead to a credible system, he concluded, wherein the incentive to commit wrongs was lessened and the collective capability to prevent those wrongs enhanced.




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