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              3 November 1999
    Secretary-General, in Statement to Oslo Ceremony for Yitzak Rabin,
    Says Rabin Led His People in Truest, most Noble Sense of Word

    NEW YORK, 2 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered on his behalf by Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to the Commemoration Ceremony for the late Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzak Rabin, in Oslo, Norway on 2 November.

     Secretary-General Annan has asked me to deliver the following words on his behalf.

     One of the highest duties of a leader is to deliver peace to his people and to his country.  Yitzhak Rabin led in the truest and most noble sense of the word.  He helped bring his country into being; he was instrumental in securing the country's existence and prosperity; and, from decades of conflict, he led his country towards peace.

     We stand in awe of the courage that is required to make a real peace; in awe of the price that has been exacted on men of peace.  We are humbled by the greatness of a man who led his people and his country, knowing that true leadership can, at any moment, demand such an unimaginable sacrifice.  Yitzhak Rabin demonstrated that the courage to make peace can be greater than the courage to engage in battle.

     Yitzhak Rabin's legacy reminds us that peace can only be achieved when men have the courage to act.  To make peace is to change the world.  Making peace requires the vision to conceive of a world without war or the constant threat of war.  It requires the strength to pursue this vision in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles; and it requires the understanding that true peace can only be achieved through building real partnerships between those who have long been in conflict.

     In 1991, with the help of the United States and Russia, the Madrid peace talks were launched.  Based on bilateral, face-to-face negotiations, this process has brought the most significant advancements towards peace in the Middle East since Camp David.  The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles and the other landmarks in the Oslo process, together with the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, point the way to a future of real peace in the region.

     The international community, including the United Nations, has actively supported the parties in their talks, in particular through the multilateral track of the peace process.  The United Nations, which embodies the world's aspirations for peace, will continue to support the Middle East peace process at the request of the parties, doing everything possible to help achieve peace with justice and security for all.

     Yitzhak Rabin's spirit has brought us together in Oslo, not only to honour the past but to renew our collective commitment to the future.  His legacy compels us to work tirelessly and courageously to continue the journey that he was prevented from completing.  We understand that the last leg of this long journey towards peace will be even more arduous than the road the parties have already traveled.  We stand alongside the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, alongside Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat, as they take the next, and most decisive steps, towards a just and lasting peace.

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