Germany urges Mideast parties to pursue direct talks

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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Saturday urged Israel and the Palestinians, who are engaged in US-mediated indirect peace talks, to pursue direct negotiations.

"Our talks focused on the indirect talks (between Israel and the Palestinians). We hope the talks will be successful," Westerwelle told a Cairo news conference after meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit.

"We want eventually a return to direct talks.

"It is important to press all the parties to work towards stability in the region, towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians and a two-state solution," he said.

Westerwelle praised Egypt's "constructive efforts" in Palestinian reconciliation which he said "would lead to more stability in the region."

The Islamist Hamas group routed president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007 after deadly fighting more than a year after winning Palestinian legislative elections.

Westerwelle's trip -- part of a Middle East tour that includes Lebanon, Jordan and Syria -- comes amid fresh indirect negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians launched on May 9.

The so-called proximity talks were first agreed in March but the initiative collapsed within days when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 settler homes in east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians eventually agreed to enter the talks after receiving US assurances the project would be frozen.

© 2010 AFP

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