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Secretary-General encouraged by Arafat-Peres meeting in Gaza

Secretary-General encouraged by Arafat-Peres meeting in Gaza

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, "warmly welcomed" today's meeting in Gaza between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, and expressed hope that this contact would serve to advance the peace process.

A spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement that Mr. Annan was "extremely pleased that the parties have agreed to resume full security cooperation and to exert maximum efforts to sustain the ceasefire."

The Secretary-General was also "encouraged by the reiteration of their full commitment to implement the recommendations of the Mitchell Report and the Tenet understandings," spokesman Fred Eckhard said, referring to the report of the fact-finding committee chaired by former United States Senator George Mitchell and the ceasefire agreement brokered in June by United States Central Intelligence Chief George Tenet.

Mr. Eckhard said that the Secretary-General was "heartened" by the prospect of the two parties taking the concrete steps set forth in the joint communiqué issued after the meeting. "He hopes that this meeting will result in a sustainable dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians and that the current cycle of violence can be brought to an end and the peace process resumed."