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Muslims and others should not be misled by bin Laden's statements, Annan says

Muslims and others should not be misled by bin Laden's statements, Annan says

Emphasizing the universal nature of the United Nations and its values, a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that Muslims should not be led astray by statements made by Usama bin Laden.

Asked about the Secretary-General's reaction to Mr. bin Laden's recent comments on the UN, spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said, "naturally he disagrees with it and hopes that Muslims and other people around the world will not be misled by it."

"The Secretary-General hopes they will understand that the United Nations is an expression of the will of all its Members, the membership of the United Nations is universal, as are the principles enshrined in its Charter," the spokesman noted. "The United Nations does not represent any particular culture, or the views of any single Member State."

Mr. de Almeida e Silva stressed that the UN's decisions and actions "are those of Member States working together to pursue common goals based on shared values of equality, tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity."

The spokesman also drew attention to today's issue of the French newspaper Le Figaro, which carries an interview with Mr. Annan, in which he stresses that "it is an insult to the peoples of the third world to suggest that democracy and human rights are purely Western products."

"On the contrary, people in the developing countries understand more and more that these rights, which are economic, social and cultural as well as civil and political, are truly universal and must be realized for all people as an essential part of the development process," the Secretary-General is quoted as saying, in the interview, which was conducted last week.