Germany to host Mideast conference
( Reuter )- Germany is to host an international conference to support efforts to build an effective judicial system and police force in a future Palestinian state, a government spokesman said Friday.
Israel, the Palestinians and other Arab states as well as the United States, Russia, the UN and European Union members will be invited to the gathering, which has been tentatively set for June in Berlin.
The spokesman said it would not be a peace conference but a meeting to support the efforts of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his role as a EU coordinator seeking to build a modern Palestinian state.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the move during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said.
Abbas briefed the German leader on the situation in Gaza and the state of peace negotiations with Israel, the spokesman said.
Merkel is due to pay a three-day visit to Israel from Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state, but will not be travelling to the Palestinians territories during the trip.
Abbas asked Merkel to take up the issue of Jewish settlements during her talks with Israeli leaders, the spokesman said.
The Palestinian leader told the chancellor that the expansion of settlements made bilateral negotiations difficult and was proving an obstacle to implementation of the roadmap designed to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the spokesman added.