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Source: European Union (EU)
29 November 2004

Minister Bot on Middle East peace process: Shalom and Shaath meet
[ 29-11-2004 | Press releases | General Affairs and External Relations ]

'We had a series of constructive meetings', said Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot today after separate meetings with his Israeli and Arabic counterparts in The Hague.

Following are the speaking points of minister Bot during a press conference that the minister gave after the talks that took place in the framework of the Euromed-ministerial meeting.

'As was mentioned by everybody, a window of opportunity has opened in the Middle East.

This window of opportunity has been created by the constructive approach taken by all sides: the Israeli authorities have shown restraint following President Arafat's death. Likewise, the Palestinians have shown leadership following the death of their former President.

We hope that we now stand on the brink of a new chapter in Arab-Israeli relations.

To illustrate that there is reason for cautious optimism minister Shalom and minister Shaath met this afternoon, and I was present. I think both ministers demonstrated leadership in agreeing to meet.

Of course, this was only the beginning. But we hope that our dinner meeting tonight will provide a further opportunity for constructive and open discussions.

We talked about how we will deal with the immediate future, i.e. the period leading up to the Palestinian elections.

The EU is willing to support the elections, also financially. The EU has also appealed to the Arab countries to make a contribution to realize progress in this field. This would be an important signal, not only to the Palestinians but also to neighbouring countries.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are transmitting important and encouraging messages. Still, we need to be cautious and take it step by step. Everyone agrees we cannot let this opportunity pass.

Once again, I want to stress that we are now focused on what can be done as a first step. Let us try to make a success of this first step. The road map remains our guidance. But it is important that we make progress now on the immediate term.'

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