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The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
03:23 AM Beirut time
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EU promises 'unprecedented' aid for Mideast peace
Associated Press
Israeli army soldiers patrol as Palestinians throw snowballs at them near the West Bank city of Jenin, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
Israeli army soldiers patrol as Palestinians throw snowballs at them near the West Bank city of Jenin, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
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BRUSSELS: European Union foreign ministers on Monday pledged "unprecedented" amounts of political, financial and security support for Israel and the Palestinians if they come to a peace agreement.

In the event of a final peace deal, EU ministers said, the 28-member trade bloc will offer Israel and the future state of Palestine a "special privileged partnership." That will mean increased access to European markets, facilitation of trade and investment, closer cultural and scientific ties and promotion of business-to-business relations. Greater political dialogue and cooperation in the security realm are also foreseen, the ministers said.

At their meeting in Brussels, the ministers proclaimed the EU's readiness to "contribute substantially" to bring about a just and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ministers didn't cite a figure and people who attended the meeting said numbers weren't even discussed.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying to broker a Mideast peace deal, and last week presented a new American security plan to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. In their written statement, the EU ministers commended Kerry's "tireless engagement," and reiterated their support for a two-state solution "resulting in an agreement on all final status issues, ending all claims and fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of both parties."

The EU ministers said they will work on concrete proposals to help contribute to the sustainability of a peace agreement, including in the areas of Palestinian state-building, regional issues, refugees, security and Jerusalem.

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