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EU's Ashton to visit Ramallah, meet Abbas

Aug. 27, 2011 9:09 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2011 10:34 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will this weekend travel to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to call for a return to negotiations and progress in the peace process.

Ashton will meet President Mahmoud Abbas, his prime minister Salam Fayyad, and PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi, an EU statement said Friday. She will also meet the Norwegian foreign minister, who is in the region.

"Following the recent tragic events in Israel and Gaza, it is more important than ever that the parties return to the negotiating table," Ashton said in the statement.

"It is only through negotiations -- and not violence -- that the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be addressed. The EU continues to make every effort to make a renewal of negotiations possible. That is why I am travelling to the region this weekend," she said.

Ashton will also meet Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense minister Ehud Barak, foreign minister and deputy premier Avigdor Liberman and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni.
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