PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS – DEC 17

Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press conference held in New York today, 17 December:

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We will seek to advance the Middle East peace process to realize the two-State solution, despite the absence of direct talks.  I once again urge the parties to engage seriously and be forthcoming on substance.  A meeting of the Quartet principals is expected early in the new year.

We will also continue to focus on improving life in Gaza.  And I repeat:  Israel must meet its obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem.

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Thank you for all your support and now I will be happy to take your questions.

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Secretary-General:  On the Quartet, we will try to have a Quartet meeting as early as possible in the new year.  Our envoys have been discussing this matter.  We have been trying to have a Quartet meeting since our last meeting in September in the United Nations.  Somehow, the situation has not been favourably developing.  As you know, these direct peace talks have been stalled over the settlement freeze issue, and I regret it deeply that this settlement issue has not been resolved.  I sincerely hope that all these issues should be resolved as soon as possible for the inalienable rights of Palestinian people and also peace and security in the Middle East, and also considering its implications for peace and security of the international community.  I will give my best efforts to be a part of this process.  The Palestinians have an inalienable right for their independence and establishing such an independent State — that should be discussed as we see the peace negotiations evolve.

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