EU's Ashton to visit Middle East in August

BRUSSELS - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Israel and Palestinian territories this month to make a last-minute push for talks ahead of a possible United Nations vote on a Palestinian state, an EU diplomat said.
Ashton is hoping to carve out a more influential role for the EU in the moribund Middle East peace process and has pushed for more western diplomacy in the region.
"She wants to go back to the Middle East as soon as possible because she wants to continue her efforts to persuade the two sides to get back to the negotiating table and gauge what the feeling is on both sides," the diplomat said.
Her visit is planned before a September gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, at which Palestinian leaders may ask for a vote on resolution on statehood if peace talks do not resume.
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