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Annan welcomes agreement on Bougainville, urges disarmament of combatants

Annan welcomes agreement on Bougainville, urges disarmament of combatants

Hailing today's political agreement between the Government of Papua New Guinea and leaders from the island of Bougainville, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged combatants to turn in their weapons - a move he said that would clear the way for peace-building activities.

Mr. Annan's spokesman said in a statement that the Secretary-General was "delighted" by the signing in Arawa, Bougainville, of a comprehensive Political Agreement that covers the crucial issues of autonomy, referendum and weapons disposal.

"In his view, the parties to the Agreement, and all others concerned, are to be congratulated on the wisdom and foresight they have shown in reaching the Agreement," the statement said.

The Secretary-General also commended the Peace Monitoring Group, comprising representatives from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, for the important role it played in the peace process.

According to the spokesman, Mr. Annan was especially glad that the United Nations, through the work of its Political Office in Bougainville, had been able to make a contribution to national reconciliation and expressed the readiness of that Office to assist the parties in the task of implementing the historic Agreement, and "particularly disposing of their weapons, on which, he hopes, they will now focus."

"The surrender of weapons by the combatants would clear the way for post-conflict peace-building activities, which in turn can help ensure that the people of Bougainville benefit materially from the return of peace to the island," the statement said.