Press Releases

    SG/SM/7820
    30 May 2001

    SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RESTRAINT, STATESMANSHIP IN MIDDLE EAST, IN MESSAGE TO EMERGENCY MEETING OF ISLAMIC CONFERENCE

    NEW YORK, 29 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered on his behalf by Lakhdar Brahimi, Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General's Preventive and Peacemaking Efforts, to the emergency meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha, Qatar on 26 May:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to this very timely meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    You gather as the spiral of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as in Israel continues unabated. One week ago, Israeli fighter planes were used to attack Palestinian locations, a response I regarded as excessive and misdirected. At the same time, I reiterated my utter condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. Such actions inevitably harden public attitudes, create a siege mentality and obstruct the search for peace.

    Now is the time for restraint and statesmanship, and especially for an end to the bloodshed which, since September, has killed hundreds of men, women and children, the great majority of them Palestinians. The report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, known as the Mitchell Report, provides a viable basis for a return to the negotiating table, and I have fully endorsed its recommendations, including its call for a halt to all settlement activity. I have also endorsed the efforts of Egypt and Jordan to facilitate a resumption of talks between the two sides.

    These initiatives offer a real opportunity for progress, most importantly because both are based on the premise that there is no alternative to dialogue. I therefore appreciate the willingness of Islamic and Arab leaders to remain engaged in efforts to revive the peace process.

    Our aim must remain a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land-for-peace. I call on the members of the OIC to play an active role in ensuring a resumption of negotiations. I also hope the OIC will do its part to alleviate the economic and social crisis facing the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer from rising poverty and unemployment and from Israeli measures that hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

    With your leadership and support, the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a viable state of their own, and of Israel for recognition and security, can be fulfilled. The United Nations, and I personally, will continue to be your partner in this vital work. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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