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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

EU Middle East representative Meets Palestinian Foreign Minister and Finance Minister

As might have been anticipated, the European boycott of the Palestinian government, which was more a formality than a fact, is crumbling pretty quickly, as is the US boycott.
I have straightened out some of the Ha'aretz jumbled prose below.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 17:42 21/03/2007   

Top EU envoy meets Palestinian FM, to meet PA Finance Minister on Wednesday
By The Associated Press

The top EU envoy to the Middle East Marc Otte met Tuesday with [Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr] ,,,, according to Otte's aide Francoise Attal, despite an Israeli push for a continued boycott of the new unity government due to the fact that it has not met international demands.
Otte is to meet later Wednesday with Palestinian Authority Finance Minister Salam Fayad, according to officials in Fayad's office.
Sweden and Belgium's foreign ministers will also meet with Palestinian officials in the coming days.
"We will evaluate and have working contacts with the new government, and that's why I'm going down there," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told reporters in Stockholm.
Bildt said he would meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and two cabinet ministers in the Hamas-Fatah government during the trip to the Middle East starting Saturday.
He said no meetings were scheduled with representatives of Hamas, which is listed as a terror organization by the EU, the United States and Israel.
Bildt was also scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and members of the Knesset, Bildt's spokesman Christian Carlsson said.
Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister and United Nations envoy to the Balkans, welcomed the formation of the Palestinian unity government Saturday, saying it opened the way for a genuine peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gught is already on a trip to the Middle East and is expected to meet with Palestinian officials Friday.
Israel is pushing for a continued boycott of the Palestinian government, because the Hamas-Fatah coalition stopped short of meeting international conditions for lifting the boycott, including recognizing Israel and renouncing violence.
The U.S. and EU have indicated that they will maintain contacts with certain Palestinian ministers considered to be moderates, but will continue conditioning the resumption of direct aid to the PA on the government accepting the international demands.
Political sources in Jerusalem said on Tuesday that according to a government decision of April 2006, whoever meets Hamas ministers will not be invited to meet Israeli officials during that same visit.
Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen met Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on Monday, becoming the first high-ranking Western official to visit leaders of the violent Islamic movement.
Following the meeting, Israeli officials canceled their meetings with Johansen that were scheduled for the next day.
Norway, a major donor, also was the first country to lift sanctions against the PA.
Other European countries - including France and Belgium - are planning talks with the Palestinian officials. Russia and France say sanctions on the PA should be lifted.
The United States made its first contact with the new Palestinian government on Tuesday, as Jacob Walles, the U.S. consul in Jerusalem met with Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad, a political independent.

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