In Gaza, Ashton calls for continued peace talks

EU foreign policy chief visits the Strip ahead of meetings with Netanyahu, Lieberman, calls for lifting the blockade.

January 25, 2012 15:04
1 minute read.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Gaza 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/ Mohammed Salem)

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for the continuation of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

The current round of talks, the fifth session of which was expected to be held later Wednesday in Amman, "are not formal talks, but at least people are speaking with each other," she said, adding that talks should not take place only for the sake of talks.

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Ashton crossed into the Gaza Strip from Israel Wednesday morning for a visit to UNRWA-operated Gaza Training Center but did not meet with any Hamas officials. The EU’s policy is that it will not engage with Hamas until that organization renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

The EU foreign policy chief also called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza to allow free imports and exports of goods and free movement.

The EU, she added, wants to see economic growth in Gaza so that its residents can build better lives for themselves, "but that requires serious negotiations to take place."

After her short Gaza trip, Ashton was expected to travel to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

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