Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the decision by the Government of Côte d'Ivoire and civil society organizations to hold a meeting today on national reconciliation to help advance the peace process there.
"This initiative is crucial to the future of your country," the Secretary-General said in a message delivered on his behalf by a senior UN official to the Forum for National Reconciliation. "I strongly urge you to conduct your meeting in a spirit of openness, tolerance and compromise."
Mr. Annan congratulated the country's political, social, cultural and religious elements for organizing the meeting, the goal of which is to restore peace, political stability and national cohesion to achieve sustainable development.
"If you are to succeed in laying the bases for a future of peace and stability for present and future generations, it is essential that you demonstrate a political will marked by the seal of brotherhood and renewed national unity," he said.
The Secretary-General also urged the participants to pursue their efforts beyond today's meeting, on the basis of conclusions reached at the forum. "Genuine national reconciliation cannot be achieved in a day," he said, pledging that the UN was prepared to support "any commitment that has the backing of all the men and women of Côte d'Ivoire."