|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.41, 8.11.01, p3|
BELGIAN premier Guy Verhofstadt will seek to boost EU efforts to kick-start formal peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, when he visits the Middle East next week (15-18 November).
The current leader of the Union's presidency is hoping to build on the past few days, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres held discussions in Brussels.
Verhofstadt will be joined on the trip by Commission President Romano Prodi, EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana, and Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel. Their primary focus will be to urge both sides to turn their attention towards the 'roadmap' for negotiations drawn up by the team led by former US Senator George Mitchell.
Published in May, the Mitchell plan has stalled due to violence in the region. "The trick is how to start getting the gears connecting and the motor turned on so that we're into the Mitchell process," said one EU official. "There is no other plan, nor does there need to be."
Meanwhile, Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has claimed the EU is increasingly being perceived as an 'honest broker' in the Middle East conflict, with Israel no longer considering the Union to have a pro-Palestinian bias. "The old game of 'if I don't get anything in Washington, then I'll go to Brussels or European capitals or vice-versa' doesn't work anymore," he told newspaper Die Welt. "Europeans, Americans and the secretary-general of the United Nations are speaking with one voice."
Ministers participating in the Euro-Mediterranean conference in Brussels this week (5-6 November) called for the withdrawal of forces from areas governed by the Palestinian Authority and for Arafat to ensure that perpetrators of anti-Israeli atrocities are brought to justice.
Belgian premier Guy Verhofstadt will seek to boost EU efforts to kick-start formal peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians when he visits the Middle East, 15-18 November 2001.
|Countries / Regions||Middle East|