Top UN envoy calls for speeding up "Road Map"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2003-09-16 02:25

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Roed-Larsen, called Monday for determined international engagement and a bold acceleration of the Roadmap process to jump start efforts to resolve the crisis in the Middle East.

Speaking at the outset of an open meeting of the UN Security Council, the envoy said he was disappointed at the stalled peace process. "The recent cycle of terror attacks and extrajudicial killings has broken the Palestinian ceasefire and brought the process to a standstill," he said.

"Given the current situation, it might be appropriate to speed up the Road Map," Larsen said, saying that viewing the situation in hindsight, the process had moved too slowly and incrementally when what was needed were bold steps to achieve a true parallelism for ending terrorism against Israelis by Palestinian militants and occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory by Israel.

On Israel's decision earlier this month to remove Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, "in a manner and at a time of its choosing,"Larsen stressed: "Mr. Arafat is democratically elected, and as such, the legitimate leader of the Palestinians. He embodies Palestinian identity and national aspirations. He is now far from irrelevant."

Triggered by Israel's decision to remove Arafat and a Syrian draft to defend the Palestinian leader, some 40 representatives rallied at the UN Security Council open meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

But the fate of the Arab draft, submitted last Friday by the only Arab member in the council, remains unclear. A UN spokesman said it is possible for a council meeting following the open debate, "but nothing is further scheduled."