UN chief: Occupation stifles Arab world progress

Ban Ki-moon says stalemate in peace process is "troubling;" expresses "deep anguish" at killing and destruction in Syria.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 370 (R) (photo credit: Ki Price / Reuters)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 370 (R)
(photo credit: Ki Price / Reuters)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid partial blame for stifled development in the Arab world on "protracted conflict, injustice and occupation," in a message relayed Monday to the Third Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Saudi Arabia.
"The stalemate in the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis is especially troubling," said Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Rima Khalaf, who delivered Ban's message.
He called for a renewal of "collective engagement to resume meaningful negotiations that will realize Palestinian aspirations to live in freedom and dignity in an independent State of their own, side by side with Israel in peace and security."
He reiterated recent statements that the UN is committed to cooperating with international partners, particularly the Arab League, as well as with both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Achieving the two-state solution also requires the economic and financial viability of the Palestinian Authority," he added. "I count on the generous support of Arab donors to deliver the safety net promised last month."
Also on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said they are deeply disturbed by the continued bloodshed in Syria, where more than 60,000 people have been killed in 22 months of civil war.
"Both expressed deep disappointment and anguish at the appalling levels of killing and destruction carried out by both the Government and the opposition, fueled by outside powers providing weaponry to both sides," the UN press office said.
"They also expressed their consternation about the lack of a unified international posture that could lead to a transition as agreed at Geneva last June and put an end to the desperate suffering of the Syrian people," it said in a statement.
Ban and Brahimi met in New York to discuss Syria. Brahimi has been trying to help Russia and the United States break their deadlock on Syria which has prevented the UN Security Council from taking any meaningful action on the conflict.
Russia and China have vetoed three council resolutions condemning Syria's government over the conflict, and reject the idea of sanctioning President Bashar Assad's government.
Separately, John Ging, a senior official with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, visited the battled-scarred Syrian city of Homs on Monday, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. Ging led a delegation of seven UN humanitarian agencies.
The United Nations had coordinated with both the government and the Syrian opposition for the visit, Nesirky said.
He said the delegation was in Syria to assess humanitarian needs and find ways to improve access to people in need throughout the country. Members of the delegation were shocked by what they saw in Talbiseh and Homs, Nesirky said.