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NZ Willing To Provide Middle East Peacekeepers

NZ Willing To Provide Peacekeepers For Israeli/Palestinian Peace Agreement

Foreign Affairs Phil Goff has told Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, New Zealand would be willing to participate fully in a peacekeeping operation to help implement a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Their meeting took place this morning New Zealand time (Sunday 11 November New York time) during the gathering for the United Nations General Debate in New York.

“Chairman Arafat reacted positively to our offer. I told him New Zealand felt very strongly about the need for a peace agreement based on a just settlement to the dispute. I also noted New Zealand’s long history of practical support for peace efforts in the region including the Sinai MFO.”

Mr Goff said Chairman Arafat impressed upon him the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East. He had also spoken with displeasure of attempts by Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants to try and wrap themselves in the cloak of the Palestinians’ cause.

“Chairman Arafat told me there had to be a concrete international response. He also emphasised the need for the United States to take the lead in efforts to promote a solution including those based on the recommendations of the Mitchell Report.”

The Minister said that while the problems in the Middle East might appear remote from New Zealand, recent events had again demonstrated that serious instability there could have an adverse impact on the lives of ordinary people well beyond the region.

“It is in the interests of the international community including New Zealanders to work together to try to defuse the Israeli-Palestinian problem and at the same time, as Chairman Arafat put it to me, drain the swamps where terrorism can breed,” Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff is expected to meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, on Wednesday New York time.


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