UN's Ban: Egypt still has 'key role' in Middle East peace process

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UNITED NATIONS: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said that Egypt under President Hosni Mubarak has played a key role in seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians and this role must be preserved in any transition stemming from the current mass protests.

"The President himself, Mubarak himself, has been playing a key role in this process," Ban told reporters after briefing the Security Council on his recent participation in a high-level meeting in Munich, Germany to further the Middle East peace process.

"The very strategic role which Egypt has been playing in the overall Middle East peace process should also be preserved. That is why I am asking that all this transition should be orderly and peaceful so that there should not be any negative sudden impact," Ban added.

In Munich, Ban attended a high-level meeting of the Quartet: the UN, European Union (EU), Russia and the United States: which seeks a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict based on Israel and Palestine living side by side as sovereign nations in peace and security.

"While the Quartet did not discuss Egypt in detail, we are all conscious that it remains a crucial partner for both the Palestinian Authority and for Israel, and for the peace process," Ban stressed, who later briefed Arab League ambassadors on the situation.

Regarding Egypt, which has been shaken by almost three weeks of mass anti-Government protests, the UN chief reiterated his call to all parties to avoid violence and ensure freedom of expression and information.

"The Egyptian people are clearly frustrated, and are calling for bold reforms. It is incumbent on the Egyptian leadership – and that of any other country in the world – to listen attentively to the legitimate concerns and aspirations of their people," he said.

"An orderly and peaceful transition is crucial. I hope that a genuine dialogue between the leaders and the people will lead to the beginning of such a process. The details of that process – and indeed the future course of their country – are entirely for the Egyptian people to define. The United Nations stands ready to provide any assistance."

Meanwhile, Ban, who also held talks with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in Geneva on efforts to reunite the Mediterranean island, said the two cleared up some differences but "much more work is needed."

The talks seek to set up a federal government with a single international personality in a bi-zonal, bi-communal nation, with a Turkish Cypriot constituent state and a Greek Cypriot constituent state of equal status in an island split since inter-communal violence erupted in 1964.

Ban also participated in an African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, stating that the UN would continue to work with the AU in seeking "a solution that upholds the expressed will of the Ivorian people," in Côte d’Ivoire, where the former president Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down despite his UN-certified defeat by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.

(BNO NEWS )

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