Creative ways needed to break impasse in Middle East, Annan says
Expressing concern about the “tragedy” unfolding in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for new approaches to ending the stalemate in peace efforts and, in that context, stressed the importance of a recent statement by Saudi Arabia.
“I think it is important that we find some creative ways of breaking the impasse and getting the people back to the table,” Mr. Annan told reporters in London in response to questions. “The statement from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was an important one which also should be factored in as we try to come forward with ideas to break the impasse.”
Recent peace initiatives for the Middle East were among the topics discussed by the Secretary-General during a meeting today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Their talks also covered Afghanistan, Iraq and the India-Pakistan dispute. In addition, they touched on preparations for the upcoming UN conferences on financing for development and on sustainable development. Those preparations were also on the agenda during a joint meeting Mr. Annan held with British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.
Following his meeting with Prime Minister Blair, the Secretary-General attended a working luncheon hosted by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, where they discussed Afghanistan, the Middle East, Zimbabwe, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Georgia.
The Secretary-General then inaugurated the new offices of the United Kingdom Department for International Development, where he met with the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short. They discussed peace efforts in Africa, particularly in the Sudan, Angola and the DRC. In addition, their talks covered levels of official development assistance, the security situation in Afghanistan, forthcoming elections in Sierra Leone and the Maoist uprising in Nepal.
Also today, Mr. Annan met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. They discussed inter-faith dialogue to support peace and combat the spread of AIDS.