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EU’s Ashton to Meet Israelis, Palestinians as Deadline Looms

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Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton headed to the Middle East in an effort to persuade Israelis and Palestinians to renew peace talks before a deadline this week set by international mediators.

Ashton was scheduled to arrive today at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv and hold meetings over three days with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, her Brussels-based office said in an e-mailed statement. She also plans to visit a United Nations facility in the Gaza Strip.

“I will continue to make every effort to push the peace talks and encourage the parties in the path toward a negotiated solution,” Ashton said in the statement.

She is part of the so-called Quartet mediation group that asked Palestinian and Israeli leaders to come up with proposals for security arrangements and final borders before Jan. 26 that would pave the way for formal negotiations, which have been frozen since September 2010.

The Quartet is made up of representatives from the EU, the UN, the U.S. and Russia. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been holding informal meetings in Amman, Jordan, in an effort to resolve barriers to resuming negotiations. Palestinian officials have said they would like to extend the deadline.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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