Annan calls for 'new thinking' in Mideast process


United Nations Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan has called for "new thinking" to achieve peace and warned Israel security measures alone would not work.

"New thinking and imaginative new ideas are being proposed from several quarters," he said. "I truly believe that it is imperative for the Security Council and the wider international community to work in a concerted manner with the parties".

His spokesman, Mr Fred Eckhard, said he found "interesting" reports that Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had considered proposals to offer Israel peace with all Arab nations in exchange for a withdrawal from all territory occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

The secretary-general also challenged Israeli insistence that violence had to end before talks would begin, a position the United States immediately criticised.

"Security cannot be dealt with in isolation. It has to have a context. It has to be addressed alongside key political issues, particularly the question of land, and the economic and social issues, including the increasingly critical desperate conditions of the Palestinians," he said.

The secretary-general said third-party intervention was needed because "the breakdown of trust" between Israelis and Palestinians "is so total that neither side will believe the other when it comes to the implementation of agreements".

Mr Annan spoke shortly after Israel Prime Minister Mr Ariel Sharon called for buffer zones between Israel and Palestinian territories. The Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation has claimed the lives of at least 888 Palestinians and 273 Israelis since September 2000.