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At UN-Arab League meeting, Ban flags role of cooperation in Middle East peace process

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

At UN-Arab League meeting, Ban flags role of cooperation in Middle East peace process

Noting the impasse in the Middle East peace process, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said the United Nations and the League of Arab States (LAS) must together “create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.”

“The Palestinian Authority needs the continuing support of the international community for its commendable state-building efforts, including financial help to ensure the payment of salaries and delivery of services to the population,” Mr. Ban said, adding that both organizations must also ensure that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) receives the funds it needs to provide its vital assistance.

“I urge LAS members do to their part on both counts,” he added, in a message delivered on his behalf to the United Nations-League of Arab States General Meeting on Cooperation, held in Vienna, Austria.

In addition to the Middle East peace process, the UN chief covered in his message a range of issues related to the two bodies’ cooperation, including the Arab Spring and the crisis in Syria.

“The Arab Spring has provided new avenues for collaboration and a new sense of purpose. The United Nations has long cooperated with the League, but today those ties are much, much closer and are bringing more tangible results,” Mr. Ban said.

He cited collaboration in Libya, where a pro-democracy uprising last year – similar to the protests in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa – led to civil war and the end of the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi; as well as Syria, where the two organizations have appointed a Joint Special Envoy to spearhead efforts to halt the violence stemming from an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad which began some 16 months ago.

“Unity among the international community will be critical for the success of our efforts to end the bloodshed, alleviate the suffering of the population and find a peaceful solution through a political transition,” Mr. Ban said in relation to Syria. “I greatly value the continued support of the League of Arab States, and I hope that we will be able to make the launching of a political process a reality.”

The UN chief said that beyond these immediate challenges, the full United Nations system remains committed to engage with Arab States across a broad agenda of mutual concern, including peace-building efforts in Somalia, Libya and Yemen, and a plan of action to enable adequate joint responses to humanitarian crises, amongst others.

“We are keen to do more with you to ensure food security, protect the environment and fight the illicit trafficking of drugs and arms,” Mr. Ban said. “Our joint work to promote human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law is especially important during this period of transition.”