18 December 2004





UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
12 February 2004 
"The Secretary-General has been briefed regularly by his Special Adviser, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, on his talks in Iraq, including today's meeting in Najaf with Grand Ayatollah Sistani and on the progress of the UN Fact-Finding Team.  The Team has had contact with a wide range of Iraqi opinion, and has been listening to the views expressed by  Iraqis on the best means of effecting a peaceful and stable transition.
The Secretary-General understands that there is a consensus emerging from the Team's contacts that direct national elections are the best way to establish a parliament and government in Iraq that are fully representative and legitimate.  At the same time, there is wide agreement that elections must be carefully prepared, and that they must be organized in technical, security and political conditions that give the best chance of producing a result that reflects the wishes of the Iraqi electorate and thus contributes to long-term peace and stability in Iraq.
The Secretary-General will be briefed fully next week when Mr. Brahimi returns to New York, after participating in the meeting in Kuwait this weekend of Foreign Ministers of States bordering Iraq, and of Egypt."
Middle East
The Secretary-General deplores the loss of life during Israeli military incursions in Gaza yesterday, which led to clashes in which at least 15 Palestinians, including civilians, were killed.  More than 50 Palestinians have been reported injured so far, among them several
critically-wounded children.
The Secretary-General urges Israel to abide by its obligations under international law.  This includes ceasing to use disproportionate force in densely populated areas and taking greater care to avoid harm to innocent civilians."

 Democratic Republic of the Congo

"The Secretary-General is deeply saddened to hear the news of the tragic killing of a MONUC military observer early this morning (New York time) in Ituri (northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo).  The incident took place after an ambush of a MONUC military and civilian convoy travelling from Katoto to Bunia, the main town in Ituri.
The Secretary-General reaffirms MONUC's determination in cooperating with the Government of the DRC to pursue the culprits and bring to justice all those who are responsible for this reprehensible and criminal act."