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UN chief welcomes US President’s speech on Middle East and North Africa

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20 May 2011 – Welcoming United States President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday on recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his own support for the aspirations of the region’s people for greater freedom and dignity and a better life.

“The Secretary-General continues to call on the leaders throughout the region to reject the use of force, violence and repression, and to choose the path of comprehensive reform and inclusive dialogue,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson last night.

Mr. Ban said he believes the people of the region had the responsibility to lead the way and pledged the full assistance of the United Nations.

On the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Mr. Ban said he believes that Mr. Obama had offered important ideas which could help the peace talks move forward, consistent with international positions and responding to the legitimate core concerns of both parties.

He encouraged Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to respond as “statesmen and peacemakers” to Mr. Obama’s speech. He expressed the hope that all sides will demonstrate a renewed determination to achieve a peace agreement that provides for two States living side-by-side in dignity, security and peace.