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UN Voices Concern on Mideast Violence - 2001-12-03

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is strongly condemning the recent suicide attacks on Israel. But he is also expressing concern about Israeli retaliation.

On Sunday, Mr. Annan issued a statement expressing shock and horror over the bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa, saying that "no cause and no motive can ever justify the deliberate murder of innocent civilians." Mr. Annan called on the Palestinian Authority to bring to justice those responsible for "acts of terrorism."

On Monday, Mr. Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, quoted the secretary-general as also being concerned about reports of retaliation by Israel in the form of missile attacks on Palestinian positions.

"He is concerned about reports regarding an Israeli helicopter gunship attack against targets very close to the office of President Arafat in Gaza. He also remains extremely concerned about the alarming intensification of the cycle of violence," said the spokesman.

Mr. Eckhard quoted the secretary-general as urging restraint in the region. He again emphasized the most important goal is the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.