UN chief urges world toward Mideast peace efforts

The head of the United Nations urged the international community Tuesday to bolster fledging efforts to revive peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also said the two sides must balance their security and humanitarian concerns. "The international community has to encourage this very fragile process, so they (Palestinians and Israelis) will constructively perform," Ban said after closed door talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II. "While I understand Israel's legitimate security concerns, these security concerns should be balanced by addressing humanitarian problems" of the Palestinians. Ban said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on her third day of shuttle diplomacy, had been "busily engaged" in trying to restart talks. Arab leaders were also taking a "very constructive role" by trying to jump-start peacemaking through the renewal of their 2002 initiative, Ban said, which envisions a full Arab recognition of Israel in return for Israel relinquishing lands it seized in the 1967 Mideast war and the creation of a Palestinian state. The initiative is expected to be at the center of a two-day Arab summit, which opens Wednesday in Saudi Arabia.