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UN team on the Middle East arrives in Cairo

Secretary-General’s team on the Middle East arrives in Cairo for first leg of peace talks

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s high-level team to the Middle East, which includes his Special Political Adviser, arrived in Cairo today on the first leg of a diplomatic mission aimed at stemming the increasing violence between Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinians.

The mission’s first meeting is scheduled with Egyptian Foreign Minister Abu Ghait after which the three-person team is expected to hold discussions with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, a UN spokesperson said in New York.

Mr. Annan decided to send the mission following the numerous phone calls he had made with officials around the world about the escalating violence in the region, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters. After Egypt, the team will travel to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

The team is led by Special Political Adviser Vijay Nambiar, who is accompanied by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Alvaro de Soto and Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for implementing Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for withdrawing all foreign forces from Lebanon, holding free elections, disbanding all militias and extending Government control over the whole country.

Earlier today the Security Council held a meeting to discuss the escalating crisis in the Middle East, after which the 15-Member body called on all “concerned sides and parties” to fully cooperate with the high-level UN team.

“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General’s decision to dispatch to the Middle East a senior-level team,” the Council said in its press statement, which was read out by its President for July, Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France. “The Security Council calls on all concerned states and parties to extend their full cooperation to the team.”

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