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Annan Vows Middle East Peace

Annan Vows To Work To Turn Dream Of Middle East Peace Into Reality

Calling this a "moment of promise" in the search for Middle East peace, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today declared his determination that the United Nations will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel and other partners to turn the current potential into a real end to the conflict.

"The long cherished dream of a vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians has been to live a normal life in peace and security," he said in a message to an International Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Geneva, delivered by Sergei Ordhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office there.

"At long last, all of us can sense a newfound movement towards that dream. I urge everyone – the parties and the international community – to refrain from any actions that would be detrimental to the resumption of negotiations and implementation of the Road Map, or that could prejudge the resolution of final status issues," he added.

The Road Map is a peace plan devised by the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to take parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two states living side by side in peace, originally by the end of 2005.

Today's meeting discussed an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that a separation barrier that Israel says it is building for security reasons is illegal where it runs on occupied Palestinian territory and should be torn down.

"There is once again a real sense that, after long years of suffering, bitterness and despair, better days may at last lie ahead," Mr. Annan said, citing a recent agreement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to end violence in what signals a new attitude of cooperation and rebuilding of trust.

"Let us all remain focused on our long-standing objective of two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders," he added.

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