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Annan Pleased At Israeli Withdrawal From Gaza

Annan Pleased At Israeli Withdrawal From Gaza; Praises Sharon, Commends Abbas

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced the hope that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, “and the cooperation and coordination between Israelis and Palestinians which made it possible,” can lead to the revitalization of the Road Map plan that that sees two states living side by side in peace.

“The Secretary-General is pleased that all Israeli military personnel and installations have been withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and praises the determination and political courage shown in this regard by Prime Minister (Ariel) Sharon,” a statement issued by his spokesman said.

“He congratulates the Palestinians and commends President (Mahmoud) Abbas who has played an important role in ensuring that the withdrawal was carried out in a peaceful and coordinated manner,” the statement added.

Mr. Annan said he was looking forward to next week’s talks of the diplomatic Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – the sponsors of the Road Map plan, which calls for a series of parallel steps leading to two states living side-by-side in peace, originally by the end of 2005.

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