Palestinians, Germany start state-building partnership

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The Palestinian Authority launched its first high-level partnership for state-building with Germany Tuesday and said it hoped to start similar alliances with other governments.

Premier Salam Fayyad said the German-Palestinian Steering Committee bringing together ministers from the two sides was aimed at readying the Palestinians for statehood which he said would advance the peace process.

"This is a first in our political and diplomatic cooperation," Fayyad told reporters at a joint press conference with his host, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

"We hope it will set a precedent on the European Union level, and on the international level."

Fayyad's talks with Westerwelle ran parallel to meetings between the German and Palestinian interior, economy, development and education ministers focused on the development of state institutions in the territories.

Both sides said they aimed to hold similar meetings once a year.

Westerwelle said the programme was also in the interest of Israel, which sees Germany as its closest ally in Europe, in preparing the Palestinians to be partners for peace with a viable, stable state.

"We believe that development and expansion of state institutions in the Palestinian Territories are indispensable for the success of a comprehensive and just two-state solution in the Middle East," he said.

Westerwelle said Germany intended to intensify cooperation by continuing to train Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, lifting an upper limit on Hermes state loan guarantees, opening a West Bank bureau to support German investors and providing assistance to Palestinian scientists.

© 2010 AFP

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