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Annan urges States to show more flexibility in negotiations on disarmament

20 January United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the countries participating in the Conference on Disarmament to demonstrate the necessary political will to break their current deadlock and make progress this year.

In a message delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Secretary-General of the Conference, to its opening session of the year in Geneva, Mr. Annan said recent world events highlight how important it is to strengthen international arms control and disarmament agreements.

Mr. Annan congratulated the efforts of Conference delegations last year to narrow their differences on what should form their programme of work. Last year marked the fifth in a row that delegates were unable to reach consensus on a work programme - a necessary precondition for tackling substantive issues.

The Secretary-General said it was "encouraging" that the Conference has addressed emerging threats and challenges, including new forms of terrorism and their potential impact on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, while also exploring ideas on how to strengthen compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements.

Mr. Annan cited several achievements of the last year, which he said proved that progress in arms control is possible. They included the fourth anniversary of the convention against landmines, a new protocol in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on explosive remnants of war, and the start of a process to strengthen the convention on biological weapons.

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