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Kofi Annan Welcomes New US Mideast Initiative - 2002-04-05

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he is encouraged by remarks made by President George W. Bush earlier Thursday on the intensifying crisis in the Middle East.

Mr. Annan said he is "happy that the United States is becoming much more engaged" in the crisis by sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region. He also praised an initiative by President Bush to have Israeli forces pull out of Palestinian cities.

"I think that was an important call from the president," he said. "We should not forget that the U.S., along with 13 other members of the Security Council, voted for the withdrawal of the Israeli troops in Resolution 1402. I am really happy to see the President reaffirm this publicly, and I urge the Israeli leadership to listen to him."

The U.N. resolution also calls on "both parties to move immediately to a meaningful cease-fire" and "to cooperate fully with the U.S. special envoy Anthony Zinni."