UN chief urges Palestinians, Israel to seize opportunity of direct talks

12:44, August 22, 2010      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called on the Palestinians and Israel to seize the opportunity of their direct talks scheduled for early September in Washington.

Ban welcomes the decision by both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct talks following the statement of the Quartet and at the invitation of the US government, said a statement issued by his spokesman.

"The Secretary-General believes that negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final status issues and he calls upon both sides to show leadership courage, and responsibility to realize the aspirations of both peoples. We should all be aware that this is an opportunity that must not be wasted," it said.

In the statement, Ban underlined the importance of the international community's support for the negotiations and for the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region in line with the Madrid terms of reference, Security Council Resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

"This opportunity must be seized so that the hope of a better future for the people of the region to live in peace, security and freedom can be fully realized," the statement said.

The Middle East Quartet members --the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States --Friday called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume direct talks on Sept. 2 in Washington with the aim of reaching a wide-ranging agreement within the next 12 months to end the region's long-running conflict.

Direct bilateral talks between the two sides have not been held since late 2008, but indirect, or proximity, talks resumed in May this year, with the former United States senator George Mitchell shuttling between Israel and Palestinians.

Source: Xinhua


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