'EU should be involved in peace process'

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki: EU must become "a player, not a helper" in creating a Palestinian state.

malki 88 (photo credit:)
malki 88
(photo credit: )
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki asked the European Union Wednesday to take an active role in the creation of a Palestinian state and said his people were ready to promote peace with Israel. Malki visited Slovenia a few days after the country took over the EU's rotating presidency. He said the 27-nation bloc should become a player, and not just a helper, in the recently revived peace process. "We want the EU to be active in actions taken in creating an independent Palestinian state," Malki said in Ljubljana, as reported by the state-run news agency STA. Palestinians are ready "to take all kinds of steps" to promote peace with Israel, STA quoted him as saying. US President George W. Bush was in Israel on Wednesday, seeking to pull Israelis and the Palestinians toward serious negotiations. He said in Jerusalem that despite ongoing land squabbles and fears of violence, he has hopes that a Mideast peace pact can be achieved before he leaves office at the end of the year. Malki said Bush's visit was important for the peace process. The Palestinians would use it to voice their complaints about Israeli actions that "go against the spirit of Annapolis," he said, referring to the November conference launching the effort. There has been little headway since Bush hosted the conference in Annapolis, Maryland. Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, who spoke to reporters together with Malki, said that if Bush's visit fails to facilitate progress, the EU would intensify its efforts, STA reported. However, with €1.5 million (US$2.2 million) in yearly aid for Palestinian institutions, the EU is "already quite a player in the region," Rupel said, according to STA.