Press Releases

    SG/SM/8288
    26 June 2002

    Secretary-General Outlines Common Concerns for UN, Islamic Conference in Message to Foreign Ministers Meeting in Khartoum

    NEW YORK, 25 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the twenty-ninth session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Khartoum, 25-27 June, delivered on his behalf, by Assistant Secretary-General Ibrahima Fall:

    I am pleased to convey my greetings to this session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, which takes place at a crucial time. As you meet, the toll of innocent civilians on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to rise. I am deeply disturbed by the continuing spiral of violence and terror that is claiming hundreds of lives. I condemn in the strongest terms the suicide bomb attacks against Israeli citizens. They are in no way justifiable and severely harmful to the Palestinian cause. At the same time, I am convinced that Israeli military operations, including the reoccupation of Palestinian-controlled areas, cannot provide Israel with the security that it justly deserves.

    At this difficult juncture, the international community -- including the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) -- must not be discouraged. More than ever, the two sides need to be guided towards the path of political negotiations. The objective is clear: a just, comprehensive and lasting solution based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1962), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002).

    Another area of concern for both the OIC and the United Nations is Iraq, and the suffering of the Iraqi people. Like many of you, I hope that the sanctions imposed on the country can be lifted in the near future. That is why I am holding a series of meetings with the Iraqi authorities. It is my sincere hope that through these talks, which are scheduled to resume in a few weeks, Iraq will reconsider its non-compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions and concur with the deployment of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

    In Somalia, violence continues to take a high toll in parts of the country, where innocent civilians are caught in the middle of factional fighting. I have been following closely the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to convene a national reconciliation conference for Somalia. Both our organizations should continue to encourage the Somali parties and the IGAD countries to complete the peace and reconciliation process through dialogue, and with all parties involved.

    Recent heightened tensions between India and Pakistan have caused enormous apprehension in the international community, not least because of the nuclear potential in the region. Despite some promising signs, the situation remains fragile. I am convinced that the only way forward is for the two countries to engage in a peaceful dialogue to address their differences, including the issue of Kashmir. Confidence-building measures to help create much-needed trust between the two would constitute a positive first step.

    In Afghanistan, the successful conclusion of the Emergency Loya Jirga last week was a highly significant step towards peace and development. I would like to pay tribute to the valuable political support of OIC member States in bringing this about. With the establishment of the Transitional Administration, the focus of international attention must now turn to the task of rehabilitation and reconstruction. The OIC has already made a considerable contribution by establishing an assistance fund for Afghanistan. Let me also commend the significant pledges made by individual OIC member States for the reconstruction of the country. It is the duty of the international community to ensure that attention and assistance to this war-ravaged country does not wane at this crucial moment.

    Finally, the OIC has played a crucial role in disassociating Islam from terrorism. Sadly, many Muslims around the world still face suspicion and hostility. Islam's message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard ever more clearly around the world, and your organization can contribute greatly in getting it across.

    These are but a few examples of the many goals and hopes our two organizations have in common. I deeply appreciate the continuing cooperation between us, and look forward to ever closer partnership in the years to come.

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