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EU pledges to fully back Mideast peace process

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Jul 20 (EFE).- The European Union will provide its full support to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo and German counterpart Guido Westerwelle said here Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the German foreign minister Friday night at his home in Palma de Mallorca to inform him of the U.S.-brokered process, Garcia-Margallo said at a two-day meeting of EU foreign ministers in the capital of the Balearic Islands.

In a joint press conference with Garcia-Margallo, Westerwelle praised the United States' mediation in this new attempt to relaunch peace negotiations and said he hoped they started as soon as possible, calling the process a "historic opportunity" that the two sides should seize with "courage and determination."

The Spanish minister urged Israel to continue its temporary freeze on the building of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank and "renounce the temptation to financially strangle the Palestinian Authority."

The EU, Garcia-Margallo said, is "keeping a very close eye" on this new peace process.

Kerry said Friday in Jordan that an agreement was brokered between Israeli and Palestinian leaders "that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations."

Referring to that deal in an interview with Israel Radio Saturday, Israeli International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz denied that the country had acquiesced to pre-conditions such as freezing settlements or basing the talks on the pre-1967 borders.

He did say, however, that Israel would release a small number of "heavyweight" Palestinian prisoners as part of the accord to restart the peace process.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130720/eu-pledges-fully-back-mideast-peace-process