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Need to advance Middle East process discussed in Annan’s meeting with Arafat

Need to advance Middle East process discussed in Annan’s meeting with Arafat

Annan meets with Arafat at UN Headquarters
The need for energetic action to move forward with the Middle East peace process was the focus of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s meeting today with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who was at United Nations Headquarters to address the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

According to the readout of the meeting, Mr. Annan briefed President Arafat on the meetings he had had with many leaders, including Presidents George Bush and Jacque Chirac, on how to reenergize the peace process, with particular focus on the Palestinian track. The Secretary-General assured President Arafat that he would continue his efforts, working closely with other key players, among them the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation.

The situation in the Middle East was also high on the agenda of the Secretary-General’s meetings today with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. A UN spokesman said that the “quartet” welcomed President Bush’s statement on the Middle yesterday in the General Assembly.

“The four, who are in constant telephone contact and whose representatives meet regularly, encouraged their representatives in the field to continue working together to help the Israelis and the Palestinians find a way to resolve the current crisis in their relations and to move toward the implementation of the Tenet Understandings and the Mitchell recommendations,” said the readout of the talks released after the meeting.

The Secretary-General’s appointments today included a meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, with whom he discussed issues of security in the Great Lakes region, particularly focusing on the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. According to a UN spokesman, they touched on the meeting held in London last week between President Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Later, the Secretary-General met with Bosnian Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija, who stressed the need to establish a road map for the country’s return to normality as the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) prepares to wind down towards the end of next year.

The political and military aspects of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the focus of Mr. Annan’s encounter with the country’s President, Joseph Kabila. They examined ways of advancing the inter-Congolese dialogue and discussed Phase III of the UN Mission in the country (MONUC), the demilitarization of Kisangani, the disarmament process and the withdrawal of foreign forces.