King meets with Solana, says need to activate Quartet’s role urgent

news63.jpgAMMAN (JT) — King Abdullah on Sunday said the region was in urgent need of activating the Quartet of Mideast peace mediators.

The King told EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana at a meeting that Europeans play an important role in pushing the peace process forward and help Palestinians and Israelis resume negotiations.

Solana was on a regional tour to push for peace ahead of a February New York meeting of the Quartet, which comprises the US, EU, UN and Russia. The group endorsed the roadmap to the Middle East peace process, which envisions the creation of a Palestinian state.

“The current atmosphere is positive and suitable to relaunch the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis, and all available opportunities should be seized,” the Jordan News Agency, Petra, quoted King Abdullah as saying.

Solana said the time was right to put the peace process back on track, moving from crisis management to conflict resolution.

“We think there is an opportunity now, an opportunity we should not let go of,” Solana told reporters following talks with King Abdullah, according to the Associated Press.

Solana, who met yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, commented on the stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations saying: “It’s been taking too long a time, the situation has not evolved, the peace process has not evolved, but we think this is the moment to give it a push and to see if we can put it back on track.” “What is needed in order to get the peace process back on track is the political will,” he said.

“From my talks with the different actors, in the United States and in the region, I think the political will [is there].”

Solana said he will present his ideas to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday.

Solana, meanwhile, urged Israel to freeze settlements on occupied West Bank territory and stop constructing its separation barrier, saying they could obstruct lasting Arab-Israeli peace.

Solana said he was struck during a tour on Saturday of Arab towns on Jerusalem’s eastern slopes that lie within West Bank land by the growth of settlements and a barrier cutting into land that Palestinians want for a state, according to Reuters.

“I had the opportunity to make a tour along the eastern part of Jerusalem and go to Abu Dis and its surroundings. You get really very shocked every time you go and you see the situation worse, the wall is more extended and settlements are more extended,” he said.

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