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22. Mars 2004  
Norway condemns killing of Yassin

jpetersen.jpgThe government of Norway, which for years has tried to broker peace in the Middle East, condemned Israel's murder of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin on Monday. Norway's foreign minister said the killing creates "an extremely dangerous situation" in the Middle East.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen said Israel's rocket attack on Yassin "will lead to greater tension in the area." He said it also will "impede implementation" of the latest peace efforts in the area, as well as Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

"We realize that Hamas has been responsible for a number of terrorist operations, which we have deeply deplored," said Petersen, who hails from Norway's Conservative Party.

"This does not, however, justify extrajudicial killings like the one we have now seen," he added.

The killing of Yassin "has created an extremely dangerous situation" Petersen said, urging both the Palestinians and the Israelis to refrain from further violence.

"Efforts to implement an agreed Israeli withdrawal from Gaza must be given top priority," he said. "I urge the parties to refrain from further violence and lay the groundwork as soon as possible so that the 'Roadmap for Peace' can be implemented."

Thorbjoern Jagland, a former foreign minister from the Labour Party who now heads the Norwegian parliament's foreign relations committee, also fears that Yassin's murder will seriously escalate the conflict in the Middle East.

"The only certain thing is that it will strengthen the radical groups, especially in Gaza," Jagland told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). "There will be even more violence, and the moderate leader within the Palestinian authorities will be further weakened."

Jagland was in Brussels on Monday to meet Javier Solana and Romano Prodi of the European Union, along with Spain's incoming foreign minister Miguel Mauratinos, to talk about how the EU can contribute to the Mid-East peace process.

Jagland was also set to have bilateral talks in Tel Aviv with representatives of Israel's government. On Wednesday he's due to meet Yasser Arafat.

Via Aftenposten News in English.


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