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In Sweden, Annan says Middle East peace talks should not wait for calm to set in

In Sweden, Annan says Middle East peace talks should not wait for calm to set in

Talks between the Palestinians and Israelis should not wait for any period of calm to set in, because it is “when people are dying that peace talks are needed most,” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told Swedish lawmakers today.

Mr. Annan’s remarks came in an address to a session of the Swedish Parliament, which was followed by a question-and-answer period with Parliament members.

In response to a question on the future role of the UN, the Secretary-General reiterated one of the major themes of his Nobel Lecture, stressing that the world body would put people at the centre of its work. Pointing to the fight against poverty as another key priority, he underscored the importance of next year’s conferences on financing for development in Monterrey, Mexico, and sustainable development, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The two upcoming forums and their role in invigorating the dialogue between rich and poor countries was also the subject of Mr. Annan’s discussions with Prime Minister Goran Persson later in the day.

In a brief press encounter afterwards, the Secretary-General reiterated his position on the possibility that the United States may extend its war on terrorism to Iraq. “My position on that has been clear – that I don’t think it would be wise and I should not advise it,” he said.

The Secretary-General, who arrived in Stockholm this morning, visited the Nobel Foundation for a meeting with fellow 2001 Nobel Laureates. While the Peace Prize is given in Oslo, Norway, the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm.

While in Stockholm, Mr. Annan also paid tribute to his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden, who had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously in 1961.