Merkel praises renewed US involvement in Mideast

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday welcomed renewed US involvement in the Middle East peace process and suggested that recent Israeli-Palestinian contacts offer a "unique chance" to advance it. Merkel, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, is seeking to put the so-called Quartet of the EU, Russia, the United Nations and the US - at the center of a revived Israeli-Palestinian peace effort. She won praise for that effort last week from US President George W. Bush, who noted that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would soon be going to the region to try to revive the process. "I am very happy that the Americans are taking the initiative," Merkel said in an interview with ZDF television.