Warrants issued by a German court for 13 suspected CIA operatives linked to the abduction of a German citizen will not harm relations, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Steinmeier said the Mideast Quartet should meet again in Berlin
Steinmeier told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that he had raised the issue with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who "assured me there would be no negative impact on German-American relations."
Steinmeier, whose remarks were released a day ahead of publication on Sunday, said he told Rice the warrants could only be served in Germany at present, but the government expected the court to issue international warrants at some stage.
A spokesman for the Munich prosecutor's office said Saturday that issuing international arrest warrants "was a formality."
A court in Munich earlier this week issued 13 arrest warrants for false imprisonment against the CIA suspects, accusing them of seizing Khaled el-Masri on suspicion of terrorism in 2003. The suspects were crew and passengers on an aircraft that flew el-Masri from Macedonia to Afghanistan in a practice known as extraordinary rendition.
Reviving the Mideast Quartet
The EU, US, UN and Russia make up the quartet
The German minister met Rice on Friday in Washington where the two officials were taking part in a meeting of international mediators known as the Mideast Quartet.
The quartet, which met for the first time in five months Friday, drew up a "roadmap" for peace in 2003 but its aim of creating a Palestinian state by 2005 was derailed by a flare-up of violence and the election victory of the radical Islamic movement Hamas.
The powers Friday endorsed a US plan to revitalize the road map, which envisages a three-phase effort focused first on ending Palestinian attacks on Israel and restricting Israeli activities inside the occupied territories and then moving on to steps towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Gaza violence mars meeting
Violence in Gaza was one of the topics the Mideast Quartet discussed
But the initiative was overshadowed by renewed Palestinian factional violence, a rift with Russia over whether to bring Syria into the process and a weary skepticism that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are strong enough to lead their people to peace.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that she was hopeful the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be resolved through a two-state solution.
"The timeframe appears favorable," the chancellor said in her weekly internet video address, which coincided with the start of a four-nation tour of the Middle East.
Merkel, whose country holds the rotating presidencies of the European Union and Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial nations, arrived in Cairo Saturday afternoon for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on ways of breathing new life into the stalled Mideast peace process.
"It is extremely gratifying that the Mideast Quartet has gathered and the international community is again taking on responsibility," she said in reference to Friday's meeting of the four-member mediation panel in Washington.