Israeli president hails resumption of peace talks

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday hailed the resumption of long-stalled peace talks with Palestinians, saying he hoped for an end to the "stormy situation" in the Middle East.

"We want to establish a two-state solution of a Palestinian state beside the state of Israel, living in peace and friendship and bringing an end to all conflict, which is so necessary today for all the people in the Middle East," Peres told reporters on a visit to Latvia.

He described the start of talks in Washington after a three-year haitus as a "special day".

"The Middle East is in a stormy situation. We hope the Middle East will overcome its storm and land in a port of peace," the 89-year-old head of state added.

Peres also downplayed any potential mediating role by the European Union, saying: "United Europe should help but leave the negotiations to ourselves and the Palestinians."

He also welcomed an EU decision last week to list the military wing of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

"They don't have a message" he said, accusing Hezbollah of "killing and acting terroristically".

Peres is on a two-day visit to Latvia focused on the unveiling of a memorial to Janis Lipke, a Latvian credited with saving Jews during the Holocaust.