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UN human rights mission contacts Israel seeking cooperation for visit

UN human rights mission contacts Israel seeking cooperation for visit

A high-level United Nations delegation of human rights experts set to visit the Middle East, sought today the cooperation of the Israeli Government, which said it would study the request.

The three members of the mission - to be led by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson - received a communication from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN in Geneva that their request for the country's cooperation had been forwarded to its Government and would be given careful consideration in light of the unfolding situation and bearing in mind other important impending visits.

The team, which also includes former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and former African National Congress Secretary-General Cyril Ramaphosa, issued a joint communiqué in Geneva today stressing that their mission "should be seen in tandem with the peacemaking efforts currently underway, notably the mission being undertaken by US Secretary of State Colin Powell."

The three also voiced hope "that a cessation of hostilities and movement on the Tenet and Mitchell plans will go hand-in-hand with measures to protect human rights - in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as in Israel."

In their letter to the Israeli Government, the team had expressed confidence "that the Israeli authorities would share our hope that whatever can be done to protect human life and safety should be done as a matter of utmost urgency."