In Cairo, Annan says 'international alliance' is working for peace in Middle East
"There is a real international alliance for peace working on this issue - the Americans, the European Union, the Russian Federation, the Arab leaders and the United Nations, are all agreed that we should push for full implementation of the Mitchell plan," Mr. Annan told reporters at Cairo Airport, referring to the report of a committee headed by former United States Senator George Mitchell.
"There has been too much suffering in this region, too much suffering for Palestinians and Israelis who have lost many loved ones for us not to try to end this tragedy," the Secretary-General said.
"We should do whatever we can to bring this tragedy to an end," he added. "I hope my visit to this region will help move the process in the right direction."
Mr. Annan observed that there was a limited timeframe for action. "I think we have a fleeting moment, a fleeting opportunity which we much seize and seize promptly, and I hope the parties see it this way, otherwise we may lose an opportunity," he said.
While at the airport, the Secretary-General met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Elah al-Khatib. Later, he held talks with Amre Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. Speaking to reporters after that meeting, Mr. Annan pointed to recent progress. "When you look back a couple of weeks ago, you see a difference in the situation," he said, noting that the level of violence was "considerably lower" than it had been before. "We also have another qualitative difference: the parties have both accepted the Mitchell recommendations," he added. "The parties have agreed to a ceasefire."
"Peace cannot be imposed," Mr. Annan observed. "Peace has to be worked out with the parties concerned and I think this is what is happening."
While at the airport, the Secretary-General met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Elah al-Khatib, who was in transit. Mr. Annan's schedule also includes a meeting today with Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. Tomorrow he will meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt before proceeding to Damascus, Amman, Beirut, Tel Aviv and Ramallah during the remainder of the week.