In an encounter with Dubai Television during a stopover at Dubai Airport Saturday returning to U.N. World Headquartersin New York from the Indian Ocean, Annan was asked his reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon's decision to cut all contacts with the Palestinian government.
He replied, "The attacks that killed the six Israelis is a real blow to the peace process," and added he thought the Palestinians had managed the transition following the death of President Yasser Arafat "extremely well. They just had brilliant elections, elected Abu Massen and everyone was looking forward to the resumption and re-energization of the peace process.
"So what has happened is a real setback," Annan continued. "I hope it will be possible to find a way to engage both parties" in the Middle East peace process.