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UN chief hails Kuwait's efforts for ridding Middle East from nuclear weapons

NEW YORK, Nov 29 (KUNA) -- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has lauded Kuwait's efforts to prove successful the second session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.
"I commend the Presidency of the second session, the State of Kuwait, for actively engaging participants during the intersessional period to learn from the other nuclear-weapon-free zones and continue moving the process forward," the UN official said at the inaugural session which was held in New York earlier Monday.
He also extended warm congratulations to Kuwait's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi for his election as the President of the five-day conference Guterres stressed that establishing Middle East as Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone will help bring lasting peace to the chronically strife-torn region and make the world a safer, more secure place.
"States must join forces and seek every opportunity to ease tensions, resolve conflicts and build lasting peace and security. This Conference represents one such initiative and could bring tangible benefits to the Middle East region and beyond," he said.
The Conference, which aims to form a legally binding treaty to establish the zone, was first held in November 2019, following a request for such a gathering at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The Secretary-General noted that since 1967, five nuclear-weapon-free zones have been declared worldwide, including 60 percent of Member States and covering almost all of the southern hemisphere.
Expanding such zones to more regions will strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation norms.
It will also contribute to building a safer world, particularly in the Middle East where concerns over nuclear programs persist, and conflicts and civil wars are causing widespread civilian casualties and suffering, undermining stability and disrupting socioeconomic development.
"I reiterate my call upon all parties to exercise restraint and avoid escalation," he said, emphasizing that the return to dialogue for the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action is an important step. Further, the perpetrators of chemical attacks must be identified and held accountable.
Achieving a nuclear-weapon-free zone will eliminate the possibility of nuclear conflicts in the region and strengthen international bans on chemical and biological weapons, he said.
It will also deescalate regional arms races and free up much-needed resources to tackle COVID-19 and climate change, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he added, calling for strong political will and international community support to transform the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East into a reality. (pick up previous) asf.ibi