Quartet to Syria: Block 'Jihad'

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The Middle East diplomatic Quartet is calling on Syria to immediately close the offices of the Palestinian group responsible for the Israeli mall bombing.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday joined his fellow co-sponsors of the "road map" peace plan in calling on Damascus to prevent use of its territory by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other such groups.


"The Quartet denounces all acts of terrorism and urges all parties to exercise restraint, avoid an escalation of the violence, and keep the channels of communication open," said a statement issued at U.N. World Headquarters in New York in the name of the four partners of the plan that calls for a series of parallel steps by both sides leading to two States -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace.

The statement followed consultations between the principals -- Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the European Union represented by United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

"The Quartet encourages and supports the Palestinian Authority's efforts to take immediate steps to prevent armed groups from acting against law and order and the policy of the Authority itself," the joint statement said. "The Quartet believes it is imperative that all involved act decisively to ensure that terror and violence are not allowed to undermine further progress in accordance with the Road Map."

The Quartet pointed out in its statement the group had claimed responsibility for the bombing attack in Natanya, Israel, demanding "the Syrian government take immediate action to close the offices of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and to prevent the use of its territory by armed groups engaged in terrorist acts."

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