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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Germany
5 February 2007

Middle East Quartet meeting in Washington

On Friday 2 February 2007 the "Middle East Quartet" (United Nations, European Union, USA and Russia) met in Washington. As President of the Council, Mr Steinmeier represented the European Union along with Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also participated.

The Quartet convened at Foreign Minister level for the first time since 20 September 2006. Mr Steinmeier and Ms Rice announced the meeting in Berlin on 18 January, reiterating their desire to revive the Quartet.

Bilateral talks prior to the Quartet meeting

Before the meeting took place, Mr Steinmeier held bilateral talks with the UN Secretary-General and his US opposite number. The German foreign minister formulated his expectations of the Quartet meeting thus: "The German government, also as the EU Presidency, is very keen firstly to shape the Quartet more actively, and secondly to help achieve a rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians". Referring to the recent violence in the Gaza Strip and in Eilat (Israel), he said that "particularly in view of this the international community is now called upon to give all possible support. We are realistic enough to know that we cannot replace the conflict parties' willingness to make peace. But we do want to support the efforts being made there and, through the Quartet, give them a new impetus".

After her talks with Mr Steinmeier, Ms Rice paid tribute to Germany's commitment in the Middle East and stressed that the Quartet would discuss ways of making progress towards creating a Palestinian state. Mr Steinmeier called the meeting an important signal for the people in the region.

Middle East Quartet Statement

After the meeting the Quartet issued a statement in which it reiterated its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, affirming the primacy of the "Roadmap". Efforts by the US to accelerate progress on the Roadmap were expressly welcomed in the statement.

The Quartet paid tribute to positive developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as the December meeting between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, as well as the subsequent implementation by both sides of some steps discussed at that meeting. The Quartet was keen to remain closely involved in this period of renewed dialogue. It attached major importance to the tripartite meeting planned for February between President Abbas, Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary of State Rice, which could define the political horizon for a solution to the conflict.

At the same time the Quartet participants expressed their concern at the continuing violence in the region and called for an unconditional end to all acts of violence and terror.

Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier has invited the Quartet to meet in Berlin following the tripartite meeting.

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