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Foreign minister supports Israel talks

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Foreign minister supports Israel talks
Photo: DPA
08:37 CEST+02:00
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met with Israeli officials on Sunday in a visit to support nascent peace talks. He offered to try and soften a European ban on dealings with Jewish settlements.

Westerwelle said he was bringing with him a simple "message of encouragement and support" of the US-sponsored direct talks. "We will play a constructive and supportive role," he said.

Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said Germany “was deeply supportive” of the need for direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to meet on Wednesday, a day after the Jewish state is scheduled to release the first batch of 26 long-time Palestinian prisoners from a total of 104 it has agreed to free.

Livni also warned against making the "linkage between Israel, the EU and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", referring to new EU guidelines excluding Jewish entities on occupied Palestinian land from financial cooperation accords with the bloc.

"The future borders of Israel and the future borders of the Palestinian state will be discussed in the negotiations room between Israel and the Palestinians and not as a EU decision, as we saw in the guidelines," she stressed.

"The EU should wait to see what's going to happen with the outcome of the negotiations."

While noting the guidelines were in the hands of the European Commission, Westerwelle said that "with goodwill and a pragmatic approach, we will overcome the present difficulties and come to solutions."

On Monday, Westerwelle will sit down with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and prime minister Rami Hamdallah before returning to Berlin.

After three years of stalemate, talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators on ending their longstanding conflict began again last month in Washington under US mediation.

The two sides aim to try to resolve their differences within nine months.

The next round is to take place on August 14 in Jerusalem attended by US mediator Martin Indyk and is to be followed by a meeting in the West Bank city of Jericho.

AFP/jcw

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