On Eve of Iran Talks, Mideast Quartet Calls for Negotiations

 

Washington, April 12 — With P5+1 talks on Iran scheduled to begin Saturday (April 14) in Turkey, the Middle East Quartet this week reaffirmed its commitment to restart Israel-Palestinian talks and find ways to support those efforts.

U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said the Quartet - the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia - remains "committed to the goals" the Quartet outlined in September.

Meanwhile, Iranian negotiators are slated to hold talks in Istanbul on Saturday with representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany (P5+1) - even as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mocked the rounds of international sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Western diplomats have said the punishing measures may be the main reason that Iran has decided to rejoin negotiations.

The Middle East Quartet met on the sidelines of the G8 foreign ministers’ talks in Washington. The Quartet’sstatement came despite the Palestinians' insistence on preconditions for talks and their history of walking out on negotiations. The Israelis, meanwhile, have said repeatedly they're ready to talk without conditions.

“The Quartet noted with concern the increasing fragility of developments on the ground and called on the parties to work constructively together to take concrete steps to address the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal challenges,” according to its statement, and called on the international community to deliver a promised $1.1 billion to the Palestinian Authority.

“The Quartet condemned rocket attacks from Gaza and stressed the need for calm and security for both peoples,” according to the statement. This year alone, terrorists in Gaza have fired 342 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians.

In September, the Quartet set a framework for negotiations between the two sides. The last round of talks took place in January in Jordan under the sponsorship of King Abdullah II and the Middle East Quartet. But the talks ended when the Palestinian delegation walked out because Israel wouldn’t agree to several Palestinian demands: that Israel stop all settlement construction and return to the 1967 armistice lines as the basis for future talks and release Fatah prisoners.


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