German FM departs for talks in Israel, Middle East

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier left Sunday for Israel, his first stop on a tour of the Middle East, where he is to hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials following Hamas' election victory. Steinmeier is to discuss the dispute over Iran's nuclear program as well as Israeli-Palestinian relations after the elections that brought Hamas to power, his spokesman Martin Jaeger said last week. In an interview with ZDF television before leaving Germany, Steinmeier described his trip as "an initial visit to the region in a difficult time." He also stressed that Germany, along with its European partners, was determined to try to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons.