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Annan pledges to work for more Israeli withdrawals
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By Lamia Lahoud and Danna Harman

RAMALLAH (June 23) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan promised the Palestinians yesterday that he would work hard for the implementation of UN resolutions calling for Israel's withdrawal from lands it occupied in the 1967 Six Day War.

Annan, who came to the region to finalize Israel's May withdrawal from south Lebanon and prepare for the stationing of UN troops there, met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah yesterday morning.

"As important as the development in Lebanon is, we should not rest on our laurels," Annan said in a joint news conference with Arafat. "We should seek the implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular 242 and 338, and work to seek progress on all tracks."

When asked how he would go about the task, Annan said he would support ongoing mediation.

Arafat and Annan met for about an hour, and Arafat praised the UN's role in implementing Security Council Resolution 425, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and the stationing of UN troops along the border, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who attended the meeting, told The Jerusalem Post.

"Arafat urged Annan to extend the same efforts to implement UN Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as 194, which calls for the right of return of Palestinian refugees or compensation for those who do not return," Erekat said.

The Palestinians want the UN to support the declaration of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in September, whether or not there is a peace agreement with Israel, Arafat adviser Nabil Abu Rudaineh said.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Annan met yesterday at the Defense Ministry and agreed that the outstanding differences in opinion between Lebanon and Israel over the newly demarcated border are "very minor" and could easily be bridged.

According to a statement issued by Barak's office, the various complaints regarding the border are primarily of a technical nature and could be resolved on a professional basis. UN officials, said Annan, are working to deal with the complaints, and it is believed these would be settled in the coming days.

Annan thanked Barak for Israel's cooperation in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425.

Last night Annan held talks in Damascus with Bashar Assad and a working dinner with Foreign Minister Farouk Shara.

(AP contributed to this report.)

© Jerusalem Post 2000

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