Ashton: Quartet meeting aim to set framework for talks

EU foreign policy chief says upcoming Washington summit will attempt to "bridge the gap" between Israelis and Palestinians.

July 7, 2011 13:07
2 minute read.
Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton (R) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday said that the goal at a Quartet meeting in Washington scheduled for Monday will be "to try and adopt a statement that will help the Israelis and Palestinians to bridge the gap, and allow for a return to the negotiating table."

The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- are scheduled to meet on July 11, a senior UN diplomat said last week.

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Ashton, during a speech to the European Parliament on 'North Africa and the Arab world', said that the EU was "united" on the need to get talks moving.

"The changes in the surrounding neighborhood, the speech of President Obama in May, the moves towards Palestinian reconciliation, the approaching UN General Assembly: all these bring a renewed focus on the possibility of talks and a solution. I have worked tirelessly for this possibility – working closely with President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad and Prime Minister Netanyahu and with many others in the region; and with our Quartet partners and with the Arab States to look for a strong and ambitious way forward, in which the EU plays the leading role this Parliament wishes us to," Ashton stated.

A round of secret meetings with US envoys aimed at getting the two parties back around the table has not yet achieved any breakthrough and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently reaffirmed that he planned to win Palestinians UN recognition this coming September.

Last month, the quartet voiced strong support for US President Barack Obama's vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"The Quartet agrees that moving forward on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues," the group said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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