East peace mediators to meet in Munich
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[January 31, 2014]
MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) — Top
officials from the United Nations, United States, Russia and European
Union will meet on Saturday to discuss how they can help U.S. Secretary
of State John Kerry's drive for a Middle East peace deal, the EU said on
The meeting of the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace
mediators will be held in Munich on the sidelines of the annual
security conference there.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she would chair the
meeting with Kerry, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Quartet envoy Tony Blair,
the former British prime minister.
"This meeting takes place in a moment when difficult and bold
decisions need to be made. The dividends of peace for Israelis and
Palestinians are enormous," Ashton said in a statement.
"I hope that together we can help those decisions to become a
reality to continue working towards a negotiated peace agreement,
setting an end to the conflict and fulfilling the legitimate
aspirations of both parties," she said.
Kerry has toiled for six months to push Palestinians and Israelis
towards an elusive peace deal to end their generations-old conflict.
A handful of diplomats remain hopeful he will defy the pessimists
and secure at least a framework deal in the coming weeks to allow
detailed talks to continue beyond the original nine-month deadline,
which expires on April 29.
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But, with both sides far apart on many core issues including
borders, security, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and
the future status of Jerusalem, many Palestinians and Israelis
believe the talks are going nowhere.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Mark Trevelyan)
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