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UN calls for lasting peace


The UN Security Council has called on Somali parties taking part in peace talks in Kenya to "sincerely pursue" efforts aimed at achieving peace and reconciliation.

In a statement to the press following closed-door consultations on Wednesday, the current Council president, Ambassador Inocencio Arias of Spain, said members reiterated their firm support for the Somali peace process

"[They] encouraged the parties to pursue sincerely their efforts aimed at achieving lasting peace and reconciliation, and expressed the hope that the conference would come to a successful conclusion in the near future," he said

The Council was discussing Secretary-General Kofi Annan's latest report on the situation in the country since February, which was presented by Haile Menkarios, director of the Africa 1 division in the UN Department of Political Affairs.

Council members called on all states and other actors "to comply scrupulously" with the UN arms embargo and to cooperate with the UN panel of experts looking into the issue.

On the humanitarian front, the secretary-general's report noted the persistence of chronic food insecurity, poverty, disease, drought and severely-limited educational and employment opportunities.

"Members of the Council expressed their concern on the humanitarian situation in Somalia, urged the Somali parties to assure and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and called on member states to respond urgently and generously to the United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for 2003," Arias said

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