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Stalemate: pragmatic steps for disarmament negoti.

In face of stalemate, Annan urges disarmament negotiators to take pragmatic steps

As delegates participating in the world's sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations gathered in Geneva to begin their annual session, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged them to take a pragmatic approach to breaking the stalemate that has dogged efforts to reduce arsenals in recent years.

In his message to the Conference on Disarmament, Mr. Annan called attention to key setbacks. “An already weakened global disarmament machinery has been eroded yet further by the disappointing results of the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament and, not least, the absence of any reference to disarmament and non-proliferation in the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit,” he said.

Negotiators must examine the political sources of the problem and take concerted action “based on pragmatism and realism,” he said in a message delivered on Tuesday by the Conference Secretary-General, Sergei Ordzhonikidze.

“Capitals need to thoroughly reassess attitudes towards the Conference, and develop a new political consensus on priorities in arms control and disarmament,” he stressed, voicing hope that the delegates would explore ways of making the Conference more effective as part of the overall efforts to reform the UN.

For the past seven years, the Conference has not been able to agree on a work programme, chiefly because of disagreements over how to tackle the issue of nuclear arms. The Conference, which meets periodically throughout the year, has 65 member countries as well as numerous other States that participate as observers.

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