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Ban Ki-moon phones Saudi, Israeli, Palestinian leaders on latest peace moves

Ban Ki-moon phones Saudi, Israeli, Palestinian leaders on latest peace moves

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon telephoned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend, reiterating international terms for solving the Middle East conflict that include recognition of Israel, and urging support for the Palestinian unity accord.

In his talks, Mr. Ban reiterated “the terms of the Quartet statement released at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday,” his spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today.

In that statement, the diplomatic grouping comprised of the UN, Russia, European Union (EU) and United States reaffirmed its “support for a Palestinian government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map.”

The Quartet has for several years now been championing the so-called Road Map plan aimed at securing a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, originally slated for completion by the end of 2005.

Friday’s Quartet statement also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s role in reaching the agreement to form a Palestinian National Unity government and expressed hope that the desired calm would prevail.

Mr. Ban will be going to Germany next week for a meeting of the Quartet in Berlin on 21 February where the four peace brokers will continue consideration of latest developments and review the status of the agreement on the Palestinian government.

In his telephone call to Mr. Olmert, Mr. Ban also expressed his concern over construction work initiated by Israel in the Old City of Jerusalem, which has been widely condemned by Arab and Muslim Governments. When asked what Mr. Ban had said, Ms. Montas said he had conveyed the concerns presented to him by UN ambassadors at the UN.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura last week voiced “deep concern” the work and called for the suspension of any action that could exacerbate tensions. “The wisest course would be to suspend any action that could endanger the spirit of mutual respect until such time as the will to dialogue prevails once again,” Mr. Matsuura said.