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Photo: AFP
German FM Steinmeier
Photo: AFP
Germany honors Israel's 60th
FM Steinmeier speaks at Bundestag, says his country committed to Middle East peace process, commends Israel for inspiring peace in region. He is scheduled to visit Israel next week as part of Germany's efforts to encourage Palestinian law enforcement
The German parliament recognized Israel's 60th Independence Day Thursday, and honored the occasion with a speech given by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The foreign minister emphasized his country's commitment to Israel and commended the State on its attempts to inspire peace in the region.

 

"The engagement for the future derives from the responsibility for the past," Steinmeier said in his address to the Bundestag lower house of parliament, adding that his country was acting towards assisting the peace process in the Middle East.

 

The German foreign minister is scheduled to visit Israel and the region next week for talks on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and political stability in Lebanon. He will leave Saturday for visits to Beirut, Jerusalem and Ramallah, and return to Berlin Wednesday.

 

Steinmeier's trip was planned as the preliminary part of a conference focusing on Palestinian law enforcement, set to take place in Berlin on June 24.

 

Foreign ministers from the Middle East, Europe, the United States and several other countries have been invited to the conference, which will focus on efforts to assist the Palestinians on building up their police forces and justice system as steps toward creating a viable state.

 

In his speech, Steinmeier said that in addition to diplomatic efforts, firm steps should be taken in order to "prove to the people of the region that peace is worth paying for." The German press reported that prior to the address the German foreign minister had expressed concern that the political crisis in Israel would hinder the peace process.

 

Steinmeier said the Nazis' slaughter of six million European Jews during the Holocaust meant it had a particular responsibility for helping to ensure Israel's security alongside a Palestinian state.

 

He also hailed the election of new Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, which he said "created the conditions for rebuilding the country" after years of strife, and welcomed indirect talks between Israel and Syria, stating that visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan would brief him on his knowledge of the discussions in Berlin Friday.

 

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