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Peres upbeat on new Israeli government

world Updated: Mar 30, 2009 20:07 IST

AFP
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Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Monday his country's new right-wing government was up for a "promising" start despite concerns over its stance on Mideast peace talks.

"They say we shall continue the negotiations with the Palestinians, we shall negotiate with each of our neighbours... and see what can be done in terms of peace on the regional level," Peres said during a visit to the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

"I would say this is a very reasonable and promising beginning."

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu finalised his government on Monday, a day before presenting it to parliament.

The right-wing shift of the new government has sparked international concern over the future of the peace process, which Israel and the Palestinians relaunched in November 2007 but which has made little progress since.

The European Union last week warned Israel of "consequences" if the new government does not commit itself to the principle of a two-state solution to the decades-old Middle East conflict.

After meeting Czech President Vaclav Klaus, Peres also highlighted the need of a broader peace solution.

"In addition to the traditional conflict between the Palestinians and ourselves, there are some other conflicts of a wider nature... and that makes the region as such the centre of the problem.

"Until now we were talking about bilateral disagreements," but now one can see "an attempt to bring in a regional peace, not just a bi-national peace," Peres added.