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Middle East: Annan urges restraint to prevent 'total collapse' of ceasefire

Middle East: Annan urges restraint to prevent 'total collapse' of ceasefire

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the parties in the Middle East to control their actions in order to avert a breakdown of the ceasefire.

In a statement released through his spokesman, Mr. Annan urged those involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "to exercise maximum restraint so that a total collapse of the ceasefire can be prevented."

The Secretary-General also renewed his call for concrete steps towards implementation of the report of the Mitchell commission, a fact-finding panel which produced a series of recommendations for stemming the violence and restarting the negotiations. Mr. Annan urged both sides to work with third parties in taking those steps, the statement said.

Reacting to the most recent incidents along the line of Israeli withdrawal in Lebanon - known as the Blue Line - as well as the Israeli attack against Syrian targets, the Secretary-General reiterated his urgent appeal that "all violations of the Line must be stopped forthwith to avoid a potential escalation."

In other news, a UN spokesman reported that a soldier from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed today while taking part in target practice at a range in the southern part of the country. The name of the soldier, who was from the Indian Battalion, has not been released pending the notification of his family.