Security Council backs joint statement on Middle East by UN, Russia, US and EU

Security Council backs joint statement on Middle East by UN, Russia, US and EU

UN Security Council in session
The United Nations Security Council this evening expressed its support for the a joint statement issued in Madrid earlier on Wednesday by high-level representatives of a diplomatic "Quartet" pursuing a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict – the UN, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United States.

The United Nations Security Council this evening expressed its support for the a joint statement issued in Madrid earlier on Wednesday by high-level representatives of a diplomatic "Quartet" pursuing a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict – the UN, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United States.

The Council reaction came in a statement read out in an open meeting at UN Headquarters in New York by Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, the president of the 15-member body for the month of April.

"The Council calls upon the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and all States in the region to cooperate with the efforts to achieve the goals set out in the Joint Statement and insists on the immediate implementation of resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002)," the Council statement said.

The Quartet's joint statement was released in Madrid following the meeting of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Foreign Minister Josep Pique of Spain, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, and Javier Solana, High Representative for European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The joint statement urged Israel to halt immediately its military operations and called on Yasser Arafat, as "the recognized" leader of the Palestinian people, to do everything possible to stop terror attacks. The Quartet called for an immediate ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, and urged the parties to move towards a political solution of their disputes based on resolutions 242 (1968) and 338 (1973), as well as the principle of land for peace.

The wide-ranging statement also reaffirmed support for the objective expressed by US President George Bush and spelled out in resolution 1397 (2002), of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Among other provisions, it welcomed the Saudi peace initiative as a significant contribution towards a comprehensive peace and voiced backing for Secretary Powell's mission and the efforts of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

On the situation along the UN-determined Blue Line that marks Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, the Quartet expressed "grave concern" about the most recent attacks from Lebanon and called on all parties to respect the Blue Line and show the utmost restraint.