European Union president Spain believes that bringing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important challenge for the Spanish presidency, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said in an interview published on Sunday, adding that he felt both parties wanted to negotiate but needed encouragement.
Moratinos reiterated that the EU must work to resume the negotiations immediately, adding that a timeframe of a year should be set for the peace process.
"Europe must push for a peaceful solution of two states for two people as soon as possible. A year is the maximum timeframe," he said in an interview to a German newspaper.
Moratinos met Saturday with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and said that his country would work to resume the talks between Israel and the Palestinians "as soon as possible."
The Spanish minister said that "it's important that both sides meet," but noted that "they will decide when and how."
Peace in that conflict could have a ripple effect throughout the region, including in Iran, he said, which would remain a challenge for European diplomacy.
The United States and major European Union states say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic programme, a claim denied by Tehran, which says its nuclear activities are purely civilian.
"We still hope the (Iranian) leadership reacts positively to the offers of the international community – above all to the outstretched hand of the US president," Moratinos said.
Iran's failure to meet an effective US deadline of December 31 to accept a United Nations-brokered proposal to send its uranium abroad for processing has prompted six world powers to start considering possible tougher sanctions against Tehran.
If Tehran continues to reject overtures, the international community should take diplomatic action, as should the UN Security Council, but military options should be ruled out, Moratinos said.
Reuters contributed to this report