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Preliminary Mideast peace meet postponed

Preliminary Mideast peace meet postponed
Initially slated for May 30, preliminary FMs’ meeting postponed to allow US Secretary of State to attend

By Onur Usta

PARIS (AA) - France's attempts to revive Palestine-Israel peace talks have met a fresh impediment with a preliminary meeting of foreign ministers -- initially slated for May 30 -- postponed because U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry could not attend.

French President François Hollande told the Europe 1 radio station Tuesday that the May 30 meeting would be rescheduled for some time later this summer to suit Kerry's schedule.

He went on to stress that France was still pushing for an international peace conference aimed at resuming the stalled Mideast peace process, with a view to "stopping the terrorist attacks, political disputes and colonization that continue to plague the region".

"We are going to create, with the main actors and neighboring countries, the parameters that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table," Hollande said.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss preparations for the upcoming conference, which will include officials from the U.S., Russia, the EU, the Arab League and the UN.

France’s peace push began in January with a claim -- swiftly retracted following Israeli objections -- that Paris would automatically recognize an independent Palestinian state if no headway was made in the peace process.

The proposed conference, however, has faced numerous obstacles, with Israel saying the move would serve to distract from -- rather than help -- bilateral negotiations.

Washington’s approach to the proposal, meanwhile, has been one of cautious reserve.

Israel suspended peace talks with Palestinian negotiators in April 2014 after Fatah -- the leading faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization -- entered talks with Hamas with a view to establishing a Palestinian unity government.

Hamas, which since 2007 has governed the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, is regarded by the Jewish state as a "terrorist" group.

Palestinians, for their part, consider Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank the main impediment to resuming peace talks.

source: News Feed
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