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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 20:08 GMT
Annan calls for Mid-East dialogue
Kofi Annan
Mr Annan has repeatedly called for a return to negotiations
Greg Barrow

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has again urged all sides in the Middle East to return to the negotiating table.


The parties should move away from confrontation and recriminations and return to the negotiating table

Kofi Annan
Speaking at the opening of this year's session of a UN committee devoted to promoting the rights of Palestinian people, Mr Annan said the deadly spiral of violence in the Middle East must now stop.

Mr Annan and other senior UN officials have become increasingly critical of Israeli military action against Palestinian targets in recent days, especially after an attack in the Gaza Strip on Sunday which damaged UN offices and injured two UN staff members.

Unwelcome input

Mr Annan's appeals for peace in the Middle East have become something of a mantra. The UN is not seen by Israel or its chief ally, the US, as a welcome partner in the push for peace.

Idith Rothstein, the twin sister of slain Israeli Keren Rothstein, comforts her mother Aviva
The spiral of violence is continuing

They would rather see Palestinians and Israelis reach agreement on the ground, before the UN becomes involved in directly supporting a new peace process.

But this has not stopped Mr Annan from repeating his calls for a return to the negotiating table.

He chose the opening session of a UN committee dedicated to promoting Palestinian rights as another opportunity to make his point.

"We have seen too many suffering. The deadly spiral of the violence must stop. The parties should move away from confrontation and recriminations and return to the negotiating table," Mr Annan said.

Mr Annan urged both Israelis and Palestinians to begin the process of implementing a peace plan put forward by the former US Senator George Mitchell at the start of the latest cycle of violence.

He said the peace process had lost momentum, but that Israelis and Palestinians should not give up on achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement based on long-standing Security Council resolutions.

See also:

10 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel raids Palestinian city
06 Feb 02 | Middle East
US urged to back Arafat rivals
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