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Quartet releases Road Map to Middle East peace; Annan urges sides to embrace plan

Quartet releases Road Map to Middle East peace; Annan urges sides to embrace plan

The diplomatic Quartet - comprising the United Nations, United States, Russian Federation and European Union - released its Road Map for a permanent solution to the Middle East conflict today, a move immediately welcomed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who urged the two sides to embrace the plan.

The presentation of the Road Map took place in Ramallah within hours of the swearing in of the new Palestinian government. The document was handed over to Prime Minister Abu Mazen by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, the acting United States Consul General in East Jerusalem, Jeff Feldman, the Russian Federation's Middle East envoy, Andrei Vodvin and the European Union's Middle East Envoy, Miguel Moratinos.

Also attending the meeting with the Quartet were Palestinian ministers Nabil Shaath, Yasser Abed Rabo, Saeb Erakat.

At about the same time, the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, delivered the Road Map to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In a joint statement, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, EU High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy Javier Solana and Secretary-General Annan said: “The Quartet today presents to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority a Road Map to realize the vision shared by the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. The members of the Quartet will work with the parties and key regional actors towards the implementation of the Road Map, in accordance with that vision.”

At UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General said it offered the two parties a chance to bring an end to a long and painful conflict. "I hope," he added, "as we press ahead with its implementation, both parties will embrace it and see it as an opportunity to bring an end to this conflict."