Ban calls for optimism to achieve Mideast peace deal later this year


United Nations : Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the US-sponsored Annapolis Conference on the Middle East held last year did not yield the desired results, but said that should not lead to scepticism about the peace process.

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“I know that the Annapolis (Conference) has not been making progress as one might have wished. But at the same time, it is encouraging that the prime ministers of both parties have been meeting regularly to address all these issues and to make progress so that they will be able to make a peace treaty by the end of this year,” Ban told reporters in response to a question as he resumed his functions at the UN headquarters following a two-week trip to Africa and Europe where he participated in the Quartet meeting in London last Friday.

“It is not desirable to have a sceptical assessment in this situation. One needs to have some firm conviction and needs to encourage the Annapolis peace process. That requires the efforts and cooperation from all the parties concerned,” he added.

On the situation in Lebanon, Ban said he is still “deeply concerned” over the lack of progress in the implementation of “important” Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701.
“You have my full commitment” to see them implemented, he said in answer to a question.

Asked whether he shares the views of Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade who called for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to be abolished, Ban said that in view of the gravity and seriousness of the situation, “I can understand and sympathise with the frustration” of many African leaders, including Wade.

However, he defended FAO which has been leading the international community’s efforts to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by the food crisis.

On this issue, he emphasized the gravity of the emergency and the need for an urgent response. “The first thing I will do, back here in New York, will be to get our Task Force on the Global Food Crisis moving at full speed,” he said, adding that the first meeting will take place next Monday.