EU foreign affairs representative Ashton to visit Israel

The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Cathrine Ashton will meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Wednesday and Thursday as a part of a five-day visit to the Middle East.
Ashton is scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The EU foreign affairs representative will also meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"This is a critical time for the wider Middle East. The close cooperation between the European Union and our partners in the region is essential to help us deal with the political, strategic and humanitarian challenges we face at this time. The objective of this trip is to take this cooperation forward as effectively as possible," Ashton said.