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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu is facing western pressure to freeze settlement constructionImage: AP

Netanyahu in Berlin

August 26, 2009

German President Horst Koehler has welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin ahead of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the contentious Israeli settlements and the wider Middle East peace process.


Merkel is expected to underscore recent calls by western leaders for a freeze on the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during talks with Netanyahu on Thursday.

Ahead of their meeting, Merkel appealed to Israel to show flexibility in efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. She told the N24 broadcaster that "we shouldn't let the window of opportunity close." A spokesman in Berlin reaffirmed the German government's stance that further Israeli settlements should be stopped.

Netanyahu arrived in Berlin after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell in London. Mitchell and Netanyahu left their four-hour meeting in London tight-lipped. While a joint statement released after the talks said that they had "made good progress" on laying the groundwork for resuming peace talks between Israeli and the Palestinians, there was no indication that either side had given in on the divisive settlements issue.

The men did agree, however, that further talks between Mitchell and Israeli officials should take place next week in the US.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Brown, with whom he discussed his own vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Israeli's "three-track" approach calls for a crackdown on Palestinian militants, improved economic development and a demilitarized Palestine.

Editor: Rick Demarest

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