Give peace a chance, says FM

Peace in the Middle East is not possible without a solution to the Palestinian problem, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said yesterday following talks with Palestinian and Jordanian government officials in Damascus. «(The Palestinian problem) was – and will be – the catalyst of all problems in the broader region,» Bakoyannis said. The United Nations resolution that halted the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah «is not perfect – it is the product of a compromise – but it is a crucial step forward, an opportunity for us to give peace a chance,» Greece’s foreign minister said. Bakoyannis said it was imperative that a UN-backed peacekeeping force for Lebanon is mobilized without delay. «We are already late,» she said. Bakoyannis yesterday discussed the crisis in the region with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s Prime Minister Marouf Suleiman Bakhit and Foreign Minister Abdelelah Al-Khatib. Later in Tel Aviv, she had dinner with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Bakoyannis is today due to meet her Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in the Israeli capital before flying to Brussels for European Union crisis talks on the situation in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas announced the establishment of a UN administration center in Nicosia for the transfer of peacekeeping troops to Lebanon. «It will be the rear command and staging center for the peacekeeping force,» Lillikas said before flying to Lebanon yesterday.

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