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German bid to broker Mideast talks

Sharon met Fischer in Jerusalem on Tuesday
Sharon met Fischer in Jerusalem on Tuesday  

FRANKFURT, Germany -- German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has stressed his country's willingness to try to clear the way for more talks aimed at ending violence in the Middle East.

Fischer said both Israeli and Palestinian officials were "oriented toward finding a solution."

Fischer on Tuesday met Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who proposed a round of talks in the German capital Berlin with Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Arafat and Peres agree to meet  
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There is a lack of "trust and hope" in the Middle East, Fischer told ZDF television in an interview from Jerusalem.

But he added that a new round of talks would be "about finding and opening a way to implement the Mitchell report and end the violence. Both sides want that."

Fischer also met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem on Tuesday between morning and evening sessions with Arafat in the nearby West Bank town of Ramallah.

He said Germany was trying to help the two sides find a way to begin talks about a gradual cease-fire to end 11 months of violence and that talks in Berlin were a possibility.

"Germany is a good host and if both sides want that, then ... our doors will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Fischer told ZDF. What is important is not where this meeting takes place, but that it is well prepared because it must not fail."

Fischer said further violence in the Mideast highlighted the danger of the situation that Israelis and Palestinians live in.

"It is a very dangerous situation, but at the same time a situation where we have to try to find the way to peace," Fischer said.

"That's what we are trying to do within the context of the international community."

• The Israeli Government's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Palestinian Authority
• German Foreign Office

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