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India throws weight behind Mid East Peace talks

world Updated: Sep 23, 2010 11:21 IST
PTI
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As Israeli and Palestinian leaders engage in direct talks after almost two years, India along with Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia has decided to support the peace process and find a solution to the decades-old conflict.

Foreign Minister S M Krishna and his counterparts from three other countries were briefed by Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on the ongoing peace talks as well as concerns about illegal Israeli settlements.

"All the parties felt that these discussions at an informal level should continue," said India's envoy to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri, who was also present at the meeting along with Krishna, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa stressed that the discussions between these four countries were to "complement" existing efforts for resolving the conflict being carried out by the United States and the Quartet (UN, European Union, Russia and the US).

"What we are saying is that we can add value to what is already existing efforts. Therefore we recognise our limitations but at the same time we have a certain niche and we can fulfill certain gaps," Natalegawa said.

"We are not in the business of trying to complicate matters. We are simply trying to speak up in favour of peaceful negotiations at this critical juncture," he added.

Meanwhile, al-Malki underlined that Israel needed to extend the moratorium on settlements, which expires on September 26, and a failure to do so would cause "a deadlock and a deterioration of the situation on the ground."

At the end of the settlement moratorium, 13,000 housing units can be built without further government approval - of which 2,000 for immediate construction, according to Peace Now, an advocacy group that opposes Israel's settlement activity.

Natalegawa also noted that meetings would continue at the foreign ministers level and it may even be raised to the heads-of-state level.

"We resolve to have our missions (UN Missions) here in New York and Geneva to work as a force in constructively pushing for success of the direct negotiation," he told PTI in response to a question.

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