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Middle East: Security Council backs Annan's efforts, Mitchell panel's report

Middle East: Security Council backs Annan's efforts, Mitchell panel's report

Members of the United Nations Security Council today voiced their full support for Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to resume dialogue among the parties to the Middle East conflict and expressed their backing for the just-released report on the origins of recent violence by a fact-finding mission led by former United States Senator George Mitchell.

"Council members welcomed the publication of the Mitchell committee report and the positive reactions to the report from the parties," the Council President, Ambassador James Cunningham of the United States, told reporters following a closed-door briefing by the Secretary-General. He added that Council members appealed to the parties to "give serious consideration to the committee's recommendations, and called on the parties immediately to begin the steps required to implement those recommendations, including on confidence-building measures."

In that context, Ambassador Cunningham said Council members welcomed yesterday's statement by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and "its demonstration of US engagement."

Calling for an unconditional cessation of violence by both sides, the Council members expressed support "for all efforts to bring violence to an end, build confidence, and advance the prospect for peace," noting the positive contributions made by the Egyptians and Jordanians.

In his comments to the press after briefing the Council, the Secretary-General also voiced his support for Secretary Powell's expressed intention to strengthen his team in the region to assist the parties in their search for a solution. The Mitchell committee report, as well as proposals put forward by the Egyptians and Jordanians, offered a possible "way out" for the parties, Mr Annan said. "I hope the parties will seize this opportunity and work with the international community to come out of this tragedy."

Mr. Annan said he was in constant contact with leaders from the region and around the world. "I also indicated to the Council that I will keep up my active involvement and, at the appropriate time, will be ready to go to the region," he said.