United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew to London from Geneva on Thursday, 1 May, to chair a meeting of the principals of the Middle East Quartet on Friday.
The Quartet met in Lancaster House in London to discuss the situation in the Middle East. They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.
After the meeting, a Quartet statement was read out Friday morning by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of a joint press conference with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; Dimitrij Rupel, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia and current European Union President; Javier Solana, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy; Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Union Commissioner for External Relations; and Representative Blair. (See Press Release SG/2137)
The Quartet expressed its strong support for ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and encouraged the parties to make every effort to realize the shared goal of an agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian State by the end of 2008.
The Quartet welcomed concrete steps by both sides in the wake of the trilateral meeting between United States Secretary of State Rice, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, and stressed the urgent need for rapid and continued implementation of these and previous commitments to improve conditions on the ground.
The Quartet expressed its deep concern at continuing settlement activity and called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. It called on the Palestinian Authority to fulfil its commitments to fight terrorism and to accelerate steps to rebuild and refocus its security apparatus.
The Quartet also called for continued emergency and humanitarian assistance and the provision of essential services to Gaza without obstruction.
After the Quartet meeting, the Secretary-General chaired an ad hoc meeting of Quartet principals and Quartet Representative Tony Blair with Arab participants in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Palestinian Authority and with the British and Norwegian Foreign Ministers, as hosts and chairs of the Committee. During the meeting, participants discussed the ongoing political negotiations, as well as the efforts under way to ensure implementation of Road Map commitments, support the Palestinian Authority and improve the situation on the ground in both the West Bank and Gaza, in furtherance of the Annapolis process.
The Secretary-General participated later in a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Palestinian Authority. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, a Norwegian initiative, was established in 1992 to ensure the efficient use of development assistance in support of the peace process and to contribute to the development of Palestinian society. (See Press Release SG/SM/11544)
He also had a number of bilateral encounters in the margins of the three meetings. He met on Thursday with European Commissioner for External Relations, Ms. Ferrero-Waldner; Salam Fayad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority; and the European Union High Representative, Mr. Solana. On Friday, he met with Prince Saud al-Faisal, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia; United States Secretary of State Rice; Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni; Salah Bashir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan; and with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, before flying back to New York.