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Ban Ki-moon, Israeli official stress importance of upcoming Middle East meeting

Ban Ki-moon, Israeli official stress importance of upcoming Middle East meeting

Next month’s United States-sponsored international meeting will be critical to the Middle East peace process, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak emphasized today during talks at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Barak also discussed recent developments in the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians, according to a readout provided by the UN.

The US-sponsored meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Washington, is designed to bring together key members of the international community, especially in the Middle East, to mobilize their support behind recent peace moves.

Last month the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, which comprises the UN, the US, the European Union and Russia, issued a statement calling for the Washington meeting to be “substantive and serious” so that the two sides can finally end their conflict and devise a durable two-State solution.

During today’s meeting, Mr. Ban also urged Mr. Barak “to take all possible steps to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people and reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to ensure that Palestinian humanitarian needs were being met.”

The readout added that Mr. Ban briefed Mr. Barak on the work of the UN Interim Force on Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is trying to implement the Security Council resolution that ended last year’s war between Israel and Hizbollah.

“He also told the Deputy Prime Minister that the UN would continue its efforts to secure the release of Israel’s abducted soldiers. They touched on Iran as well.”