EU urges 'early meeting' of Quartet to spur Mideast peace

AFP , Monday 23 May 2011

The European Union, welcoming Obama's Middle East policy shift, Monday called for an "early meeting" of the Quartet group of world powers seeking an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal


A statement issued by foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc said President Barack Obama's speech last week "sets out important elements contributing to the resumption of negotiations".

"On this basis, it (the EU) looks forward to an early meeting of the Quartet Principals to take the process forward," a reference to a ministerial-level meeting.

In a US sea-change on the Middle East, Obama last week urged that borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war form the basis of a future Palestinian state.

The EU has long maintained a deal should be based on lines prior to the 1967 war, with mutually agreed land swaps and secured and recognised borders on both sides.
The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East -- the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States -- too has expressed "strong support" for Obama's vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace, adding to pressure for concessions and a return to talks.

Obama relaunched direct talks between the two sides in September 2010, the first in nearly two years, but they ground to a halt over the issue of Israeli settlement construction.

A partial freeze on settlement building expired shortly after the talks started, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to renew the moratorium.
The Palestinians say they will not negotiate while Israel builds on land they want for their promised state.

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