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Annan voices extreme concern at Mid East violence

Following weekend of bloodshed, Annan voices extreme concern at Middle East violence

Following a weekend that saw further bloodshed in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced his extreme concern at the level of violence and growing number of casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A statement issued by a UN spokesman in New York said the Secretary-General deplored that during the last weekend at least nine Palestinians and two Israelis were killed in various incidents. “The Secretary-General believes that the most recent upsurge in violence and retaliation only feeds the cycle of mutual anger and hatred that leads to further civilian victims on both sides,” Fred Eckhard said at a press briefing.

“He calls on all Palestinians to stop attacks on Israelis and to pursue non-violent policies,” the spokesman said. “Equally, the Secretary-General urges the Government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint, in particular refraining from the disproportionate use of force and such actions as extra-judicial killings and demolition of houses. All parties must understand that there is no military solution to this conflict and that there is no alternative to a political settlement.”

According to Mr. Eckhard, the Secretary-General remains convinced that the only way forward toward reviving a sustainable peace process is a firm commitment of the parties to end all violence and to work closely with the diplomatic Quartet on the basis of its road map to a two-State solution.

“In this connection, he welcomes the initiative of Prime Minister [Tony] Blair to convene a meeting tomorrow on the important issue of Palestinian reform,” the spokesman said. “The Secretary-General very much regrets that senior Palestinian officials were not allowed to travel to London for this meeting.”

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