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Hague: Mideast peace a priority

May 23, 2013 5:16 P.M. (Updated: May 30, 2013 10:09 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a "priority," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on a visit to the region Thursday, as he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The Middle East peace process is ... an urgent priority for the United Kingdom and to the world," he told reporters ahead of a meeting with Netanyahu.

"We welcome the very strong commitment (to reviving peace talks) shown by (US) President (Barack) Obama on his recent visit here, and by Secretary (of State John) Kerry, who is here again," Hague said.

"My visit is in support of those efforts," he said. "We urge all parties to move the process forward and to really give the bold and decisive leadership that will allow success," he stressed, adding that peace was "necessary and just and possible."

Kerry was also in Jerusalem on Thursday on his fourth visit to the region since taking office in February, to push for a revival of a peace process that broke down in September 2010.

He was meeting Palestinian leaders in Ramallah in the West Bank on Thursday afternoon, and Hague was to follow suit by delivering a speech there and meeting President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hague and Netanyahu would also discuss the Iranian nuclear program and the war in Syria, the two men added in separate statements, hailing Britain and Israel's "strategic" cooperation.

Hague spoke of Britain's "very strong concerns ... about the nuclear program of Iran. We pursue ... sanctions and negotiations, but nobody should doubt our resolve in these matters."

Netanyahu described Iran's atomic drive as "the biggest challenge of our time."

The Israeli premier also expressed his condolences for the "horrific terrorist attack against a British citizen in London," a reference to the murder of a soldier there on Wednesday.

"We sympathize deeply."
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