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Ban Meets With Arab Ministers Seeking Ceasefire

BAN MEETS WITH ARAB MINISTERS IN BID TO SECURE ISRAEL-HAMAS CEASEFIRE
New York, Jan 5 2009 6:10PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon intensified his diplomatic drive to secure a Gaza ceasefire today, calling on Arab foreign ministers to help ensure that Israel end its “clearly excessive” military assault and Hamas stop its “terribly counter-productive” and “completely unacceptable” rocket attacks.

“As leaders I believe we must do more,” he told Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, the foreign ministers of Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and other Arab representatives in a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York in which he called for an immediate and durable ceasefire that is fully respected by all.

“Our task is to find fast and real solutions. It is regrettable that the call by the Security Council has not been heeded by the parties concerned. I believe that the Security Council should live up to its responsibilities under the UN charter and bring this crisis to an end and establish a durable, permanent peace in the region,” he said.

After Israel launched a ground offensive into Gaza on Saturday in addition to its then week-old air attacks, the Council held a closed meeting but reached no formal agreement, although Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert of France, which holds the Council Presidency this month, said there were “strong convergences” to express concern at the stepped up violence and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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“We must work together, urgently and practically, so that the Council can act quickly and decisively. As Secretary-General, I want to help facilitate a speedy and effective international consensus to end this violence,” Mr. Ban told the Arab leaders, adding that the UN is doing all it can to “feed and help the men, women and children of Gaza and ease their suffering in the midst of this frightening and dangerous ordeal.

“I am trying hard to use the moral authority of my office to bring an end to this trauma,” he said, voicing deep concern at “the terrible crisis unfolding before us.”

Mr. Ban added, “We must insist that Israel end its military assault, which is clearly excessive. We must insist that Hamas end immediately its rocket attacks, which are so terribly counter-productive, in addition to being completely unacceptable. There must be an immediate ceasefire, durable and fully respected by all.”

Gaza’s civilian population is “being subjected to a massive trauma that is not of their own making… I am also deeply worried about what the further escalation of this conflict could mean for stability in the region,” he said.

The foreign ministers present were Salaheddine al-Bashir of Jordan, Fawzi Salloukh of Lebanon, Abdel-Rahman Shalgam of Libya, Fassi Fihri of Morocco and Mhamad Husayen al-Shali of UAE. The UN permanent representatives of Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Syria and the Palestinian representative also participated.

ENDS


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