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Global leaders call for ME conference

AMMAN, Jordan, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The International Crisis Group has released a joint statement by 135 global leaders calling for international action to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the statement distributed in Amman Wednesday the former presidents, prime ministers, ministers and congressional leaders and heads of international organizations stressed the urgent need for a new international conference as a means to kick-starting peace negotiations on all tracks.

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"With the Middle East immersed in its worst crisis for years, we call for urgent international action towards a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict," the statement said.

"Everyone has lost in this conflict except the extremists throughout the world who prosper on the rage that it continues to provoke," it added.

The former officials said a comprehensive settlement should be based on related United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Road Map and the 2002 Arab peace initiative, which envisioned the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state.

"We believe the time has come for a new international conference, ideally held as soon as possible," the statement said, adding that irrespective of how soon such a conference may convene, "support should be extended to a Palestinian national unity government, with an end to the political and financial boycott of the Palestinian Authority."

It also called for talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, as well as parallel talks between Israel and Lebanon and Syria.

"Nobody underestimates the intractability of the underlying issues or the intensity of feelings they provoke. But if the Arab-Israeli conflict, with all its terrible consequences, is ever to be resolved, there is a desperate need for fresh thinking and the injection of new political will," the statement added.

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