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Annan Urges South Africa to Keep up Its Role as Peacemaker


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged South Africa to continue its work to help countries and regions in conflict achieve peace. Mr. Annan was addressing the country's legislature in Cape Town.

Secretary-General Annan said South Africa has played an important role in regional conflict situations such as Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic and Congo. He urged President Thabo Mbeki to forge ahead with these efforts.

Earlier Annan told reporters in Cape Town that Zimbabwe should work with its neighbors to resolve its internal problems because they are spilling over into the region.

"In this day and age very few crises remain internal for long. They usually affect neighbors by throwing up refugees, by creating situations that affect the neighbors, so that the neighbors have a legitimate interest and I know that South Africa had done a lot to help with the Zimbabwean situation as any good neighbor would want to do," he said. "And I would also encourage neighbors in crisis, countries in crisis to listen to their neighbors and to work with them in resolving the conflict, because you cannot claim that it is always internal affairs, particularly when it has impact on your neighbor."

Mr. Annan says the he plans to visit Zimbabwe before he leaves office later this year. However, attempts to arrange a visit last year with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe failed following a damning U.N. report on the forced removals in Zimbabwe which saw 700,000 lose their homes or jobs.

Mr. Annan also urged developing countries to work together and speak with one voice in negotiations about trade and other international issues. He said that only by doing so, will they win concessions from powerful industrial countries to ensure they can compete as equals.

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