Talks only path to 'lasting peace:' Germany

21st September 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday called negotiations the only way to achieve "lasting peace" between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We are still counting on negotiations having a chance," he said amid frantic diplomatic efforts to convince the Palestinians to drop their bid for full UN membership of a Palestinian state.

Westerwelle, who spoke to journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, said Berlin has not made a decision yet on how it would vote in the Security Council on any Palestinian membership request. Germany is currently a non-permanent member of the UN body.

"We will formulate our position when we know where, when and on what there will be a vote", he said. "Any premature determination would narrow our diplomatic leeway."

Germany's decision will be guided by four principles: getting the peace process back on track, preventing an escalation of violence in the region, achieving a common European position, and its special relationship towards Israel.

"The security of Israel cannot be called into question," Westerwelle said.

He hailed the speech of US President Barack Obama as consistent with the German stance, calling it a "very clear" commitment to a two-state solution on the basis of peace talks.

The German foreign minister also supported Obama's call for UN Security Council sanctions on Syria.

"We will be stepping up our efforts for a resolution", he said. "What happens in Syria is a crime."

© 2011 AFP

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