EU foreign policy head begins Middle East tour
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was due in Syria for high-level talks on Tuesday, at the start of a five-day tour of the region, dpa reported.
Over the course of his two-day stay in Damascus, Solana will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Deputy Prime Minister Abdallah al-Dardari, and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim.
He will next travel to Lebanon and Egypt on February 25, and to Israel on the following day. He will spend February 27 and 28 in the Palestinian territories, before attending a March 2 summit on reconstructing the Palestinian economy in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt.
His talks with Arab and Israeli leaders are expected to focus on efforts to revive flagging peace talks and to reconstruct the Gaza Strip's economy after Israel's 22-day offensive there in late December and January.
Solana on Monday urged a return to "conflict resolution" between Israelis and Palestinians following the Israeli elections.
"We have to see how the situation in Israel evolves after the elections," he told reporters in Brussels. "I think the time for concentrating only on crisis management is over and we have to do the conflict resolution as soon as possible."