Islamic Conference has key role in ensuring peace, fighting terrorism - Annan

28 May 2003

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had "key contributions" to make in safeguarding the interests of the Iraqi people, bringing peace to the Middle East, rebuilding Afghanistan and healing the breach between faiths opened by terrorism, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message issued today to a meeting of the 56-member body.

"The OIC has been articulate in rejecting any linkage between international terrorism and Islam, and active in repudiating those misguided and malevolent individuals who have invoked Islam while inflicting appalling suffering on innocent people," Mr. Annan said in a message to the 30th session of OIC Foreign Ministers in Tehran, Iran.

"I urge you to continue your efforts to inform the world about what Islam really means and the values it represents, and thus help to fill, with accurate information and mutual understanding, the terrible breach that has opened between faiths, cultures and countries," he added. "That would be a most welcome contribution to our shared mission of development, tolerance and peace."

Assuring the Conference that the UN would play its full part in ensuring that the Iraqi people can form a free, representative government as soon as possible, Mr. Annan declared: "All international and foreign entities in Iraq must realize that it is essential that at all times we keep the interests of the Iraqi people at the forefront of our efforts."

Referring to the Road Map plan calling for a Middle East peace based on an Israeli and a Palestinian state living side by side and achieved through reciprocal, parallel steps, Mr. Annan noted that "great wrongs have been done by each to the other."

"Terrorist attacks launched by Palestinian groups must stop, and the Palestinian Authority has an obligation in this regard," he declared. "Israel must end such measures as extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, house demolitions, blockades and settlement activities. Moreover, the parties should not allow extremists to hijack the process and dictate agendas."

Though responsibility to bring this process to a successful conclusion rests primarily with the parties themselves, Mr. Annan added, "The international community remains there to help, not least to alleviate the hardship of the Palestinian people until the occupation of the Palestinian territory is ended."

On Afghanistan, he warned that fragile gains in rebuilding the country were being threatened by daily harassment and intimidation, inter-ethnic and inter-factional strife, and the persistence of the drug economy. "At this critical stage for the Bonn (reconciliation) process, I hope the Security Council, Afghanistan's neighbours, and the entire international community will maintain their commitment and support," he added.

"The OIC has key contributions to make in these and other areas," he stated.


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