Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is very much encouraged " that direct peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been launched today and called for those talks to tackle core issues so that a lasting peace can be reached in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas began talks this morning in Washington D.C. under the auspices of the Quartet, the Middle East diplomatic grouping comprising the United Nations as well as the United States, the European Union and Russia.
The talks follow an invitation from the US Government last month and a statement from the Quartet.
Direct bilateral talks have not been held since late 2008, but indirect, or proximity, talks resumed in May this year, with the former US Senator George Mitchell shuttling between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas.
Mr. Ban told journalists today in Vienna, where he is travelling as part of an official visit to Europe, that he was encouraged by the talks and sincerely hoped that the parties can do all they can to create a politically favourable atmosphere.
He said Israelis should extend the freeze on settlements beyond 26 September and that Palestinians should not resort to violence.
The Secretary-General will convene a meeting of Quartet principals in New York later this month to coincide with the annual opening of the General Debate of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters. Representatives of the League of Arab States will also be invited to that meeting.
This is just one part of our continuing efforts to work together with the other members of the Quartet as well as Arab partners, " Mr. Ban told reporters yesterday in Liechtenstein. We need the collective efforts to see the peace in the Middle East. Peace and stability in the Middle East has wider implications for peace and security globally. "
The UN chief stressed that the talks should substantively address the core issues of the conflict, which are the core issues for lasting peace in the Middle East in general. "