Shirin Abu Akla, Aljazeera's correspondent in Ram Allah, said Annan during his visit on Monday urged the Palestinian authorities to expedite the peace process with Israel.

 

The Palestinian side impressed upon Annan the need to halt the construction of Israel's divisive separation wall and to stop expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the correspondent said.

 

There was also a sense of disappointment in Palestinian refugee camps as Annan would not be visiting them, the correspondent reported.

 

Demonstrations

 

Demonstrations had been organised in central Ram Allah in protest against the UN for not playing a major role in halting the building of the separation barrier being built in the West Bank.

   

Annan said the global community
was keen on the road map

Annan, on his first visit to the region in almost four years, arrived in the West Bank after talks in Jerusalem on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

 

He said he intended to promote a long-stymied international road map peace plan for a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza alongside a secure Israel.

   

"The international community is determined to work with both sides to press for the implementation of the road map and work to ensure that the day when a Palestinian state is established side by side with Israel will not be [far off]," the UN chief said during a pause in his discussions with Abbas.

 

Meetings

 

He is also scheduled to meet other Palestinian officials, including Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasir al-Qidwa.

 

"The international community is determined to work with both sides to press for the implementation of the road map"

Kofi Annan,
UN secretary-general

Abbas, in an interview with Israeli television on Sunday, predicted he would win resistance fighters over to a formal ceasefire at talks in Cairo this week and pledged to ensure Sharon could carry out a planned pullout from Gaza in safety this summer.

 

Resistance groups on Monday said Egypt had proposed that they approve a one-year truce with Israel. The groups have observed an informal truce since soon after Abbas' 9 January election victory, but avoided a formal commitment.

   

They have protested at what many Palestinians, including Abbas, see as Israeli foot-dragging in implementing summit promises such as a pullback from some West Bank cities and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

   

Peace hopes have revived since Abbas won election to succeed Yasir Arafat, and along with Sharon proclaimed a mutual halt to hostilities at a groundbreaking summit last month.

   

Annan has been active in promoting the road map drafted two years ago by a quartet of peace-brokers comprising Russia, the European Union, the US and the United Nations.