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Middle East conflicts nearing 'boiling point,' UN

Middle East conflicts nearing 'boiling point,' UN envoy warns

With several hotspots in the Middle East reaching a boiling point, the national dialogue in Lebanon represents one of the few signs of peaceful conflict resolution, a senior United Nations envoy said today in Paris.

“The situation in the broader Middle East is more complex, fragile and dangerous today than it has been for a long time,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, said following a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac. “Several of the multiple conflicts in the region are reaching a boiling point.”

Mr. Roed-Larsen found some cause for hope, calling the national dialogue between all parties in Lebanon, initiated by Speaker of Parliament Nabi Berri, “one of the few signs of conflict resolution through peaceful means in the Middle East.”

Mr. Roed-Larsen had traveled to Paris to review the latest developments in Lebanon and their regional context with President Chirac. Lebanese political parties are currently discussing a number of issues, including presidential elections, the disarming and disbanding of militias, and Lebanon's ties with Syria and other countries in the region.

The envoy has been voicing strong support for Lebanon's national dialogue, emphasizing that the talks would contribute to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 which, among other measures, called on the Government of Lebanon to make more progress in controlling its territory and disbanding militias, while also calling on Syria to cooperate with those efforts and to take measures to stop movements of arms and personnel into Lebanon.

“The UN remains committed to the full restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty and political independence, and on behalf of Secretary-General Annan, I will continue to work relentlessly with all relevant parties towards this end,” Mr. Roed-Larsen pledged.

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