Annan condemns suicide bombing in Jerusalem, urges sides to cooperate with Powell

Annan condemns suicide bombing in Jerusalem, urges sides to cooperate with Powell

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today condemned the suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem and called on both parties to work with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell during his visit to the region.

"[The Secretary-General] reiterates his utter condemnation of such attacks against Israeli civilians as morally repugnant," Mr. Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said in a statement, which stressed that in order to break the cycle of violence, both parties must move towards an immediate ceasefire, leading to negotiations on a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.

"In this regard, the Secretary-General calls on Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Sharon to cooperate with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell's mission," the statement said.

Mr. Annan, who was in Geneva today, called attention to the "massive" violations of human rights and humanitarian law going on in the Middle East. "We must all be deeply upset by the spectacle of so many unnecessary deaths; so much destruction and distress; so much erosion of restraints and coarsening of moral sensibility," he said in an address earlier today to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

With the parties "locked in the logic of war," the Secretary-General said progress would require moving them to the "logic of peace" by addressing the core issues of occupation, violence - including terrorism - and the economic plight of the Palestinians. "We must also remember that one cause of the current situation has been the persistent denial of fundamental human rights," he stressed.

Mr. Annan said the task of the international community - and the Commission - "is to help bring both parties back to civilized standards of conduct; to insist on respect for human rights and humanitarian law; and to demand access for humanitarian organizations, as well as respect for freedom of expression."

Towards this end, he called on the leaders of both sides to "make an immediate declaration of commitment to respect basic norms of human rights and humanitarian law."