27 June 2001


NEW YORK, 26 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered on 25 June, to the twenty-eighth session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Bamako, Mali, 25-29 June. The message was delivered by Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs:

Let me first of all express my gratitude for the warm hospitality extended by His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali, and by the Government and people of Mali, hosts here in Bamako of this twenty-eighth session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers.

I should also like to pay tribute to Abdelouabed Belkeziz for his work as head of the secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Last month, you convened an emergency meeting in Doha, as Palestinians and Israelis were once again caught up in a cycle of violence and terror that has claimed hundreds of lives since last September.

I deplore this loss of human life and wish to reaffirm the sacredness of all life, whether Palestinian or Israeli. As I have said on numerous occasions and repeated during my visit to the region a week ago, violence and terror only breed more violence and do not lead to peace.

The fragile truce that now prevails must be consolidated without delay, and this will be possible only if the truce is anchored within a political process. I welcome the fact that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have finally accepted the conclusions of the report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, chaired by George Mitchell, the former United States senator. The parties must now implement all of the Committee’s recommendations promptly and effectively, as an appropriate basis for the resumption of the peace process.

Our objective must be the establishment of a just and lasting peace, based on the resolutions of the Security Council, in particular resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and on the principle of the exchange of land for peace. Only a peace that will translate into tangible benefits for each Palestinian and each Israeli can attract the support of all those involved. For the Palestinians, this means that their legitimate aspiration for dignity and the creation of an independent and viable State can be realized at last. For the Israelis, it means recognition of their State and the knowledge that they will be able to live in peace within secure and recognized borders.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference remains an important and indispensable partner of the United Nations for the achievement of these objectives. Together, we can restore hope and move forward towards this comprehensive, just and lasting peace to which all the peoples of the region aspire. This is why I welcome the initiative taken by the Islamic Summit Conference, held in Doha, and the constructive talks which the Ministerial Committee of OIC held with the members of the Security Council in New York on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Among other questions of concern to the international community and which I know are also of great interest to your organization, let me begin with the case of Iraq.

I share your concern at the suffering which the Iraqi population continues to endure and, like you, I hope that the sanctions that have been imposed on this country could be lifted in the near future. This is why I again appeal to the Iraqi authorities to reconsider their position and agree to cooperate with the international community and to abide by the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. I, personally, am prepared to continue with the Iraqi Government the dialogue begun last February to seek a way out of the current impasse.

There is another population that has been suffering for far too long. I refer to the Afghan population caught up in a fratricidal war and bearing the full brunt of its impact. The United Nations will continue to do everything in its power to help the Afghan parties reach a negotiated and peaceful settlement. OIC too has spared no effort in recent years in pursuit of the same goal and I wish to emphasize the value of the help and support that you provide, particularly through the OIC Committee for Afghanistan. In this connection, I welcome the appeal made in Doha by the Islamic Summit Conference to all the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to put an end to their hostilities and cooperate in the establishment of an inclusive, multi-ethnic government that is representative of Afghan society.

However, one cannot hope to restore peace to this country without the support of its neighbours and other concerned States. This is why I urgently appeal to those States, and in particular to Iran and Pakistan, to collaborate even more closely in efforts to restore peace in that country which has suffered so much.

I have been following with particular attention the difficulties faced by the civilian populations in south Sudan. The United Nations will continue to support the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and to provide, through Operation Lifeline Sudan, the necessary humanitarian assistance to the populations affected by the civil war and drought.

Lastly, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Somalia and Sierra Leone, the emerging signs of peace and stability must continue to be supported.

On all of these questions and on many others, cooperation between the United Nations and OIC has steadily increased over the past few years, a trend that I find encouraging.

Inspired by the confidence that has developed between our two organizations, I wish to conclude by making an urgent appeal for your help in winning a battle that is crucial to the future of millions of people in the four corners of the globe. At this very moment, a special session of the General Assembly is being held in New York on HIV/AIDS. This mortal virus has already killed nearly 22 million people throughout the world and continues to claim each day the lives of children, adolescents and adults in the prime of their lives. I sincerely hope that Member States will reach agreement on a precise and targeted plan of action and will contribute to the global fund to promote health and combat HIV/AIDS, so that by the year 2015 we can stop the spread of the epidemic and begin to reverse the current trend, as world leaders committed themselves to do at the Millennium Summit held last September.

I wish you every success in your deliberations.

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