Carter, Annan to head peace mission

March 9, 2008 - 0:0

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The council of world leaders launched by former President Nelson Mandela is sending a three-person team to help ease tensions in the troubled Middle East, the organization known as The Elders said.

Former President Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former Irish president Mary Robinson will visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia from April 13-21.
Launched last year to celebrate Mandela's 89th birthday, the group of 12 world leaders is dedicated to fostering peace and resolving global crises.
Annan noted his recent mission to Kenya in which he mediated a power-sharing agreement in the country's disputed presidential election.
""I have just completed an intense and grueling negotiation in Kenya and learned that conflict is easier than peace, but persistence makes peace possible,"" said Annan, adding that he was ""acutely sensitive to the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in the mind of many in the Middle East.""
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who chairs The Elders, appealed to the Israelis and Palestinians to stop the ""cycle of violence.""
He also ""equally vehemently"" condemned the deaths of civilians in the recent Israeli offensive on Gaza. The campaign, in which more than 120 Palestinians have been killed, targeted militants who have been barraging southern Israel with rockets.
""Peace will not come from the barrel of a gun, as we learned in South Africa,"" he said. ""Peace will only come when the inexorable cycle of reprisal provoking counter reprisal, ad nauseam ends. When the inalienable rights of all, Israeli and Palestinian, are recognized and respected.""