Last Updated: Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:18 am (KSA) 08:18 am (GMT)

U.N. chief urges Palestinians to return to peace talks, calls for action in Syria

The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, says he is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (Photo by Reuters)
The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, says he is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (Photo by Reuters)

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on Palestinians to return to talks with Israel and said the peace deadlock is harming the whole Middle East. He also called for “coherent” new international action over the deadly crackdown on opposition protests in Syria.

Amid mounting diplomatic tensions over a possible Palestinian bid to get full U.N. membership, the U.N. secretary general said both sides must make concessions to get back into talks.

“I am asking them to enter into meaningful negotiations and the international community has a duty to create some conditions favorable to this,” Ban told a press conference.

The U.N. leader said Israel’s approval of permits for new settlements in the occupied territories “has not been helpful.”

“At the same time, Palestinians should also try to sit together with Israeli people.”

The United States has threatened to veto any bid by the Palestinians to seek full U.N. membership at the Security Council, insisting that only direct Palestinian-Israeli talks can set up a Palestinian state.

European nations also say they want any Palestinian action at the United Nations to lead to new talks which have been frozen for the past year.

The U.N. leader said the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock was “affecting overall peace and security in the Middle East,” highlighting the crisis between Israel and Turkey and the recent attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

“I am deeply concerned that with the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, we are now experiencing very deteriorating, rapidly deteriorating situations between and among many important players in the region,” Ban said.

The Israeli-Turkish relationship “is now going in a very negative way” and the embassy attack was “very worrisome,” Ban said.

Ban called for “strong regional leadership for lasting peace and security in the Middle East.”

Ban, meanwhile, called for “coherent” new international action over the deadly crackdown on opposition protests by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

“When he has not been keeping his promises, enough is enough and the international community should really take coherent measures and speak in one voice,” the U.N. secretary general told a press conference.

Ban expressed particular concern over what he called the “very oppressive handling” of opposition protests in which more than 2,600 people have died.

Ban has had several telephone conversations with Assad since the protests erupted in mid-March. Assad made commitments at various times in the talks to end his clampdown and to make political reforms.

“These promises have become now broken promises,” Ban said.

The UN leader said it was for the U.N. member states and the U.N. Security Council to decide what action should be taken on Syria after it had ignored “urgent appeals” by the international community.

Western powers have called for a Security Council resolution laying out sanctions against Assad. But it is deadlocked because of opposition from Russia, China and other countries.

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