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UN forum on Middle East peace process concludes in Copenhagen

UN forum on Middle East peace process concludes in Copenhagen

With broad agreement on the steps needed to reach a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, the international community must now help the Israelis and Palestinians move the peace process back on track and towards completion, the United Nations top envoy to the region said at a UN media seminar in Copenhagen, which concluded today.

Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that despite unprecedented violence recently in the region, there remained a general will among Israelis and Palestinians to find a solution.

"The aspirations of both peoples can be reconciled with each other and their visions can, as I see it, be shared," he said in a keynote address to the International Media Seminar on "Ending confrontation: Building Peace in the Middle East."

The Special Coordinator noted that there was "deep consensus" in the international community on how the conflict must end, including the principles of providing Israel with real and permanent guarantees of its own security as well as providing the Palestinians with real and permanent independence. They also included, as part of the process leading to these goals, the necessity of removing Israeli settlements, of reforming the Palestinian institutions and restoring the Palestinian economy and infrastructure.

Tuesday's meeting of the so-called Quartet on the Middle East reaffirmed these ideas, as well as the three-year timeframe indicated by US President George W. Bush for reaching conclusion on these important goals, Mr. Roed-Larsen stressed.

The Special Coordinator said that he and other Quartet envoys planned to meet in August and September to examine such issues as reform, economic and humanitarian assistance, elections, security and political progress and then report back to the Principals at a possible meeting in the margins of the annual UN General Assembly debate in September.

"The principles of that common vision are known, the mechanisms for reaching it are available to us," Mr. Roed-Larsen said. "What we need now, however deep our distress and pain is, is to summon the will to turn our vision into a concrete reality that touches the deepest aspirations of both peoples."