Germany's Fischer sees better chances for Mideast peace

(dpa) - Former German vice chancellor and foreign minister Joschka Fischer told a newly-established Middle East forum late Tuesday that the region should not waste the window of opportunity opened with the November Annapolis meeting to reach a durable peace for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"The prospects for a just, peaceful and lasting conflict solution are better than they have been for a long time. The challenges are huge, but we all have to actively support the new momentum for peace in the Middle East," Fischer said.

The leader of the German Green Party for nearly 20 years was the main speaker at the inauguration of the Berlin-Amman Middle East Forum, a new platform for dialogue on political, economic and cultural issues to be held on a yearly rotating basis in Amman and Berlin.

Other participants included Jordanian Foreign Minister Salah Bashir, former Jordanian prime minister Taher Masri and leaders of think tanks and media.

Fischer said he believed that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict would mostly work through compromises, which he said also applied to the Lebanese crisis.

"It is painful but I do not see any other solution. Integration in Europe was achieved because countries put aside national interests," he said.

He referred to the ongoing conflict between the United States and Iran over Teheran's nuclear programme as one of the "unintended" consequences of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Fischer expressed fears about a nuclear race within the Middle East which would be a "nightmare for the region and beyond."

He said that the next US president "should correct some mistakes" committed by the present administration of President George W Bush.

"If this does not happen, the situation will only get worse," Fischer said.

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