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Germany

Germany to Host Major Mideast Conference

Germany is hoping to raise some 118 million euros ($183.6 million) for investment in the West Bank at a key meeting on Palestinian security in Berlin on Tuesday, June 24.

Palestinian policeman stands guard near the Church of the Nativity (background) in Bethlehem,

Training for Palestinian police is supposed to be improved

The aim of the conference on Palestinian security is to send a clear signal for the development of a functioning Palestinian state.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and international Mideast special envoy Tony Blair will be among those attending.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Egyptian Foreign Minister Abu Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa will also be present. Organizers are expecting some 50 delegations in total. Syria will not be sending any representatives.

Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State listens to translation at a meeting

The US secretary of state is expected at the meeting


Organizers said it was not designed to be a pledging conference, but added that the cash raised would be ploughed into police training, equipment and judicial projects over the next three years.

The money will be used for concrete projects to modernize or build new police stations in the West Bank and improve the criminal justice infrastructure and court administration.

The Gaza Strip, under the control of the militant Hamas movement, is not covered by the program, which involves regular Palestinian police and not the national security forces, the diplomats said.

Berlin expected to give

"Germany will make a substantial contribution," one source said, without giving a figure.

Following the conference, Rice, Lavrov and Blair will join EU foreign policy supremo Javier Solana and a representative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting of the Mideast Quartet of mediators.

The Berlin conference comes in the wake of a major donors' conference in Paris in December which raised 4.9 billion euros ($7.4 billion dollars) in aid for the cash-starved Palestinians.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, shovel asphalt during an inauguration ceremony of a street paving project

Germany's foreign minister recently paid an official visit to the region


Some of the funds will go towards expanding the role of the European Union training program for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' police force.

Currently there are 30 EU police advisers in the West Bank and the number could soon by augmented by another 20, the diplomats said.

With well-equipped security authorities and an independent judiciary, the Palestinian Authority would be in a position to speed up political and economic development, they added.

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