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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 31st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The original from the UN official – “UN DAILY NEWS from the  UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE.”
31 July, 2009 ==============================

MIDDLE EAST SEMINAR HEARS UN CALL FOR JOURNALISTS TO DO MORE TO ENCOURAGE PEACE

Journalists can do more to broaden the public dialogue about the situation in the Middle East and help bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians, the United Nations’ public information chief has told a seminar on peace in the region.

Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, told participants at this week’s two-day International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East that they were meeting at a time of “new challenges and developments” in the region.

The conflict in the Gaza Strip at the start of the year was still having humanitarian repercussions, he said, while the recent speech in Cairo by United States President Barack Obama and a separate speech last month by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were also having an impact.

“You have enormous power to reach out to the widest possible audience to change the mindsets… for better understanding and a peaceful future for all people in the Middle East,” Mr. Akasaka told participants at the seminar, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

He also delivered a message on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said he took heart from recent public opinion polls indicating consistent grass-roots support in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory for a resolution to the conflict whereby two States live side by side in peace.

But in the message Mr. Ban noted he remained deeply concerned about the conditions on the ground, especially for civilians in Gaza, where there is “potential for renewed instability. I am doing my utmost to ensure that reconstruction starts as soon as possible.”

Members of the media and civil society groups play crucial roles in keeping the public informed and in promoting mutual understanding, the Secretary-General added.

“I encourage you to explore what more you can do to spread the message of coexistence and peace. While fully respecting your professional independence, we also need your creativity and engagement.”

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