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German FM calls for settlement freeze

Dec. 4, 2010 10:14 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 6, 2010 10:04 A.M.)
AMMAN (AFP) - German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Amman on Saturday that his country would make every effort to promote Middle East peace, Jordan's official Petra news agency reported.

In a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Jawdeh, Westerwelle underscored his country's backing for "all efforts to support and promote peace and stability in the Middle East," Petra said.

Jawdeh in turn emphasized the need "to intensify international efforts as soon as possible to progress toward resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-state solution," Petra said.

He underscored "the need to create suitable conditions to allow the resumption of direct negotiations ... which requires that Israel stop unilateral measures, in particular the illegal construction of settlements."

The comments come as direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have faltered following the end of a temporary ban on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not return to negotiations while Israel continues to build on land the Palestinians want for a future state. But Israel has so far refused to impose a new ban.

On Thursday, a Palestinian official said Washington had officially informed them that attempts to secure a new Israeli settlement freeze had failed, but US officials have refused to confirm or deny the report.

Westerwelle arrived in Amman from Baghdad, where he made a surprise visit on Saturday and held talks with Iraqi leaders to promote trade and voice concern over attacks against minority Christians.
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