Merkel tones down opposition to Palestinian state declaration
Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to say Friday whether Germany would oppose Palestinian plans to have their territory recognized by the United Nations as an independent state, dpa reported.
Arab nations are to ask the UN General Assembly later this month to recognize the Palestinians, a move that has upset Israel.
"I am not going to disclose today our voting intention, whatever it may be," Merkel said at the end of a major foreign policy speech in Berlin.
Merkel has in the past asked Palestinians to drop their plans and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is to visit Ramallah and Israel on Sunday and Monday for last-minute diplomacy on the issue.
"We are going to use the days that remain to perhaps achieve a few millimetres of movement," Merkel said, adding that unilateral moves needed to be treated with the utmost caution.
She said Germany sought a decision "that at the very least does not set us back in regard to the peace process."
She called for a resumption of peace contacts under the aegis of the Middle East Quartet comprising diplomats from the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union.
Opposition parties again attacked Merkel for her previous opposition to the statehood declaration.
Guenter Gloser of the Social Democrats charged that Merkel's fixed stance had undercut EU diplomacy, while Green Party foreign policy spokeswoman Kerstin Mueller said it was a "disgrace" that EU policy had been split because of Berlin's stance.