catherine ashton 311.
(photo credit: AP)
BRUSSELS— Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, starts her second Mideast tour in four months Saturday, trying to restart the stalled peace talks and push Israel into making good on a promise to open border crossings with Gaza.
"The European Union has been calling for an urgent and fundamental
change of policy regarding the closure of Gaza," Ashton said on the eve
of her visit. She added, "We have welcomed the announcements made by Israel following the
flotilla incident and are now awaiting their implementation. We stand
ready to support the opening of the Gaza crossings for the traffic of
goods to and from Gaza."
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On her three-day visit, Ashton will meet separately with the leaders of
Israel and the Palestinian Authority and also with Tony Blair, the
former British premier who is now the international community's envoy to
the Middle East.
She is expected to reiterate the EU's commitment to progress in the Mideast peace
process, officials said.
Ashton planned to travel to Gaza on Sunday for visits to projects run by
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
During her three-day visit, she will also meet with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In the Palestinian areas, she will meet
with Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian president and