France and Spain aim to play key role in Mideast peace talks

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France and Spain said they wanted Europe to play a key role in the newly resumed Middle East peace negotiations, after their two foreign ministers met in Madrid Friday.

"We hope Europe will be more strongly associated with the peace policies in the Middle East," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said after talks with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Moratinos also welcomed as "very good news" the resumed negotiations, in which Israeli and Palestinian leaders aim to settle core differences in the decades-old Middle East conflict within a year, meeting every two weeks.

Spain and France should be present at the next round of talks, Moratinos said, to help "consolidate the process" and "avoid another failure".

The relaunch of direct peace talks took place in Washington on Thursday, in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The next round has been set for September 14-15 in Egypt. More negotiations are due every two weeks after that.

© 2010 AFP

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