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Ashton: Israel refused to extend freeze

Oct. 1, 2010 4:00 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 3, 2010 9:21 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Following meetings with President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said no progress had been made.

Though she described the meetings as "positive and constructive dialogue," Ashton told reporters in Jerusalem on Friday that she had requested that Israel extend its moratorium on settlement construction.

"I regret that so far they have chosen not to," she said, adding that "Those of us engaged in the process have been very concerned that the ending of the moratorium puts at risk the possibility of long term peace."

Ashton also praised the continued work of Fayyad's government on state-building, adding the proviso that the project is essential to a Palestinian state only when "nurtured in the context of serious ongoing talks which lead to a solution on all final status issues."

She said the EU would "continue to offer whatever support we can so the talks continue and a comprehensive and sustainable solution is found, with the state of Israel and the state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security."
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