Westerwelle visits Mid-East to support peace efforts
JERUSALEM (AFP) - German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met Sunday with Israeli officials on a visit to support nascent peace talks, offering to try to soften a European ban on dealings with Jewish settlements.
"This meeting comes after we relaunched the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and I know that Germany is deeply supportive of the need of direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said ahead of their Jerusalem meeting.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to meet on Wednesday, a day after the Jewish state is scheduled to release the first batch of 26 long-time Palestinian prisoners from a total of 104 it has agreed to free.
Ms Livni also warned against making the "linkage between Israel, the EU and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", referring to new EU guidelines excluding Jewish entities on occupied Palestinian land from financial cooperation accords with the bloc.