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Middle East Violence: Annan voices grave concern

Middle East: Annan voices grave concern for steady rise in violence

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced grave and increasing concern for the steady escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians, urging both sides to take urgent steps to step back from such confrontations.

The Secretary-General "utterly condemns its latest manifestation, today's terrorist attack in the Israeli city of Haifa," said a statement issued by a spokesman for Mr. Annan, noting that 176 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have died in the violence since the beginning of the year.

"The Secretary-General strongly believes that the parties should take urgent steps to draw back from this dangerous and de-humanizing situation," spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "He once again calls on both sides to respect fully their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the lives of civilians."

The spokesman added that Mr. Annan remained convinced that violence will produce "neither security nor lasting peace," and reiterated his call on the parties to let the international community help them find a peaceful way out, based on the two-state solution set forth in the road map plan of the diplomatic Quartet, comprising the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States.

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