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Israel visit

November 24, 2009

On the final day of his maiden trip to Israel since becoming foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle has called for a speedy resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians under the so-called roadmap to peace.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, right, listens as his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, talks during a press conference
Westerwelle, left, met with his Israeli counterpart LiebermanImage: AP

Germany's foreign minister has reiterated calls for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he said was necessary for lasting peace in the region. He also urged the two sides to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

"Our goal is a real two-state solution with a state of Israel respected by all its neighbors, and a viable Palestinian state," he said Tuesday, following separate meetings with acting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank town of Ramallah and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Fayyad said that during their meeting he and Westerwelle discussed the roadmap to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which states that Israel should stop all settlement activities in the occupied territories.

"And there was an agreement on this with the foreign minister," Fayyad told a joint new conference earlier Tuesday.

Israel has come under especially sharp criticism by the international community in recent weeks for failing to cease construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories such as East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Nuclear Iran "unacceptable"

An aerial photo shows Iran's Uranium Conversion Facility, just outside the city of Isfahan, 410 kilometers south of the capital Tehran
Iran has a number of uranium enrichment and research facilitiesImage: AP

After the meeting with Fayyad, Westerwelle met with the Israeli foreign minister, with whom he discussed Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of further sanctions on the Islamic republic, which he refused to rule out.

"Nuclear armament of Iran is, for us, not in any way acceptable," he said after meeting with Lieberman in Jerusalem.

Westerwelle, who leads Germany's Free Democrats, the junior coalition partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, was vague on whether Germany would seek sharper sanctions against Iran if it continued to shun talks aimed at halting its uranium enrichment program.

Regarding possible further sanctions on Iran, Westerwelle said: "Not everyone will play along, but we know what needs to be done."

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the UK and the US - plus Germany have put a proposal to Tehran whereby it would send its uranium to France and Russia for enrichment. Iran has all but rejected the deal.

Westerwelle had arrived in Jerusalem on Monday when he attended a service at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The site is dedicated to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

Editor: Nancy Isenson