Saturday, 4 July 2009

Steinmeier´s visit to the West Bank

Date: 04 / 07 / 2009 Time: 15:11
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Steinmeier [Ma'anImages]
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Germany's foreign minister will visit the occupied West Bank next week to add his support to the Palestine-Israel peace process, AFP reported.

According to his spokesperson on Friday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Palestinian officials in the West Bank on Monday, when he will also hold talks in Israel, before heading to Lebanon and Syria later on Tuesday.

"We have had new momentum in the Middle East peace process since the new government took office in Washington and support its fresh efforts to reach a two-state solution and a return to negotiations," said Andreas Peschke of German's Foreign Ministry.

The official also insisted that neighboring countries play a role in the process, and added that Germany saw several positive signs in the Middle East, including Lebanon's 7 June election in which a Western-backed coalition narrowly defeated its Hizbullah-allied rivals.

Peschke went on to say that Germany would pursue a policy toward the region moving away from "slogans" to concrete actions on the ground, and in close consolation with European Union and United States negotiators.

The spokesperson added that such steps would include more developmental assistance to the Palestinian Authority for training its security forces and preparing it for eventual statehood, which Steinmeier will assess during his visit.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made headlines last Thursday when she added her voice to a growing international call to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, which she called a threat to the two-state solution.

"I am convinced that there must be a stop to this. Otherwise we will not come to the two-state solution that is urgently needed," she said. "I think it is now important to get commitments from all sides and that includes the issue of settlement building."

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