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Annan, General Assembly back call for Olympic truce next year

Annan, General Assembly back call for Olympic truce next year

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the General Assembly today called for warring sides in conflicts around the world to observe a truce during next year's Olympic Games in Athens.

The General Assembly agreed to back a truce during the Games, to be held from 13 to 29 August 2004, while Mr. Annan called the resolution "a powerful message" to parties in dispute around the world.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York after the Assembly's vote, Mr Annan said he hoped the warring sides would use the Olympic truce to "stop and reflect…even if it is for 24 hours."

"I hope that people in all conflict areas - from Iraq to Afghanistan to Liberia to the Congo - will really listen to the message. But it is not just those who are actually fighting. The populations should also work to make demands that they want peace, and that the fighting must stop," he said.

The Assembly, during a session on sport for peace and development, passed a separate resolution that included supporting a proclamation that 2005 be the International Year of Sport and Physical Education.

During its debate, the Assembly was addressed by International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, who said sport played a crucial role in uniting people and teaching them tolerance.