German leader in Riyadh to discuss ME peace with Saudi leaders

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a four-day Middle East tour. She will also visit the UAE and Kuwait.

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February 4, 2007 17:36
1 minute read.

 
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel was meeting with Mideast leaders on Sunday as part of a push to shore up support for renewed efforts for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Before heading to Riyadh, Merkel held talks in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who stressed the need to act quickly if progress is going to be made. "He (Moussa) sees a window of opportunity basically this year," Merkel told reporters after talks with Moussa. In Riyadh, Merkel is to meet with King Abdullah who, like Egypt's Mubarak, has worked to mediate between Hamas and Fatah, locked in fighting for control of the Palestinian government since the Islamic militant Hamas ousted its rival from power last year. Mubarak, speaking Saturday at a joint press conference with Merkel, said Egypt was working to "seal the crack" between the two sides. But Mubarak stressed that a deal also must be brokered to secure the release of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants in June. Egypt has been trying to negotiate his release in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. "It all depends on the soldier that was detained by the Palestinians, and at the same time the Palestinians are demanding the release of their detainees. We are working on this line, and we hope that we reach a solution soon," Mubarak said. Merkel, who has made the revival of Mideast peace efforts a goal of Germany's turn at the six-month rotating European Union presidency, is on a four-day Middle East tour. She also will visit the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Her visit comes on the heels of a meeting in Washington of the Quartet of Mideast negotiators - the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia - on ways to move peace talks in the region forward. The Quartet's particular focus is on pushing forward the internationally backed "Road Map" for peace, which outlined stages for setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The plan stalled almost immediately as both the Israelis and the Palestinians failed to meet their obligations.

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