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Annan urges Islamic ministers to stay active in reviving Middle East peace talks

Annan urges Islamic ministers to stay active in reviving Middle East peace talks

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged Islamic ministers meeting over the weekend in Doha, Qatar, to engage in efforts to revive talks in the search for peace in the Middle East.

In a message to the Emergency Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), held on Saturday, the Secretary-General called on those present to "play an active role in ensuring a resumption of the negotiations."

He also expressed hope that the OIC would "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."

Against the backdrop of spiralling violence in the occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel, the Secretary-General stressed the need for restraint, 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 Secretary-General repeated his endorsement of the report of the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, which was set up to look into the causes of the tragic violence and how to prevent its recurrence, as well as efforts by Egypt and Jordan to facilitate a resumption of talks between the two sides.

Noting that these initiatives offered a "real opportunity for progress," Mr. Annan expressed appreciation for the willingness of Islamic and Arab leaders to remain engaged in efforts to revive the peace process.

"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," said the Secretary-General. "The United Nations, and I personally, will continue to be your partner in this vital work."

Mr. Annan's message was delivered on his behalf by the Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments, Lakhdar Brahimi.