UN chief to visit Israel, Palestinian territories

Ban Ki-moon to go on Middle East tour "at an important moment" in order to support the peace process; announcement follows low-level talks between Palestinian, Israeli delegations in Jordan.

Bank Ki-Moon at Beirut news conference 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Bank Ki-Moon at Beirut news conference 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan in a Middle East tour supporting the peace process, Ban said Wednesday.
"My visit comes at an important moment," the UN chief said at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Following the low-level talks taking place in Amman at Jordan's invitation, Ban said "I will be there to encourage both sides to re-engage in earnest and create a positive atmosphere for moving forward."
Ban's visit is scheduled for after the Quartet of Middle East mediators' deadline for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to present proposals regarding a borders and security.
The UN chief will also visit Israel and the Palestinian territories after EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton made a similar trip this week.
Palestinian officials said that Wednesday's meeting in Amman would be the last one.
The PA has come under heavy pressure from the Quartet to continue the talks but will not agree to do so, Ma'an cited unnamed Palestinian sources as saying.
Jordan's Abdullah, meanwhile, has urged Palestinian Authority President Abbas to continue the current Israeli-Palestinian talks after Thursday, a PA official in Ramallah said. That is the day when – according to the Palestinian interpretation -- a three-month deadline set by the Quartet expires.
Israel believes that the deadline does not expire until early April.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report