ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C., 20 DECEMBER
Secretary-General Kofi Annan left New York early on Friday morning, 20 December, for Washington, D.C., where he was to participate in a meeting at the State Department of the Middle East diplomatic “Quartet”. That group comprises the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations.
The United States was represented by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov represented the Russian Federation. The European Union was represented by three officials: Per Stig Moeller, the Foreign Minister of Denmark, current President of the European Union; Javier Solana, the European Union’s High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy; and Chris Patten, the European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs.
After a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with Secretary of State Powell, the Secretary-General met with the other members of the Quartet, in a meeting that lasted about two hours. That meeting was followed by a working lunch.
Afterwards the participants went to the White House for a meeting with President George W. Bush and the Vice President Dick Cheney. Speaking to reporters at the start of the meeting, the Secretary-General said the Quartet was very close to finalizing a “road map”, which could help bring about the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side. “It will require sacrifices from both sides”, Mr. Annan added, “and it will demand parallel steps by both States for us to be able to move forward”.
The road map, he said, must not only be performance-driven, it must also be hope-driven. “I believe”, the Secretary-General told reporters, ”that this vision of two States, living in peace and security, will be the dream that will keep that hope alive”.
Later, a joint statement was released by the Quartet which called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. “All Palestinian individuals and groups must end all acts of terror against Israelis, in any location”, the statement said. Adding that as calm is established, Israeli forces should withdraw from Palestinian areas and the pre-Intifada status quo on the ground should be restored.
The Quartet also expressed concern at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank and called for increased effort by the Government of Israel to ease the humanitarian situation in those places.
In conclusion, the Quartet members said a further meeting of the Quartet principals in the near future would take place to adopt the road map and present it to the parties.
The Secretary-General returned to New York early on Friday evening.
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