For information only - not an official document.

2 February 2001

Secretary-General and Swedish Prime Minister Encourage
Middle East Parties to Continue Peace Process

NEW YORK, 1 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement issued today by the Office of the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and the Prime Minister of Sweden, Goran Persson, in his capacity as President of the European Council, have had regular contacts with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the past week, during and following the recent rounds of negotiations. They have also been in contact with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and other regional and international leaders.

The Secretary-General and the Swedish Prime Minister reiterate their strong support for the Middle East peace process. They hope that it will be possible for the two sides to return to the negotiating table soon after the Israeli prime ministerial elections on 6 February.

They have conveyed to the parties their conviction that it is possible to reach an agreement in the near future, and have encouraged the parties vigorously to continue the peace process on the basis of the progress made in Taba, Egypt, in order to reach a final status agreement and the end of conflict as soon as possible. They expressed their continuing personal readiness and commitment to assist the peace process in any way possible.

The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also urged the parties to implement outstanding agreements, including the Sharm-el-Sheikh Understandings. They expressed their concern that the situation in the region was fragile, and called on the parties to refrain from any actions that might provoke further violence.

* * * * *