Europe wants central role in Middle East peace, Mogherini says

EU foreign policy chief Mogherini and Italian Foreign Minister Gentiloni attend a meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers in BrusselsBy Robin Emmott BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union wants a more active role in seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday on the eve of her first visit to the region. Six months into her tenure, the 41-year-old former Italian foreign minister is eager to leverage Europe's position as Israel's biggest trade partner and as the Palestinians' main aid donor after last year's failure by the United States to make progress in the latest efforts to broker a two-state peace deal. "My very early visit has a political meaning," Mogherini told a news conference following an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels where she discussed the Middle East. "The European Union is ready and willing to play a major role in a relaunching of this process on the basis of the two-state solution." Some EU diplomats believe Mogherini, who meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday and Thursday, sees a chance for EU diplomacy in the absence of a major new push from Washington as President Barack Obama approaches his final 18 months in office.


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