Britain hails Mideast talks as 'courageous step'
British Foreign Secretary William Hague warmly welcomed the resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians on Friday as a "courageous step" towards peace in the region.
He called for "urgent progress" and appealed to the parties to refrain from any activity that could undermine the talks, which are backed by the diplomatic quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.
"I warmly welcome the decision by (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Palestinian) President (Mahmud) Abbas to move to direct talks, and the Quartet statement earlier today," Hague said in a statement.
"A two-state solution is the only hope for lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians. Today's announcement is a courageous step towards that goal.
"Urgent progress must now be made. We call on all parties to refrain from any activity that could undermine negotiations."
Hague said that Britain was ready "to do all we can to support the parties and buttress these important talks" alongside the Quartet.
Israel and the Palestinians will resume direct peace talks in early September -- the first in 20 months -- with the aim of a deal within a year to create an independent Palestinian state, US officials said Friday.
© 2010 AFP