Middle East

Mideast may flare up if peace talks fail: Israel's Peres

Israel's President Shimon Peres, center right, walks with Romanian President Traian Basescu past an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Middle East could erupt into violence if the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapse, Israel's President Shimon Peres warned on Monday.

"It is crucial that these negotiations will be completed successfully," Peres said after meeting Romanian President Traian Basescu.

"A failure to do so would be tragic for the Middle East. The situation in the Middle East can flare up overnight if the talks fail."

Israel and the Palestinians embarked upon a nine-month track of direct negotiations at the urging of US Secretary of State John Kerry, at the end of July.

But although the April deadline is looming, the talks appear to have made little visible progress. Currently, Kerry's main focus is trying to get the sides to agree on a framework to guide the negotiations forward in the coming months.

Basescu told the Israeli president it was a "crucial moment" in the talks.

"My main message is ratify the Kerry initiative and seize the opportunity at a time when the Middle East is on fire," he said.

"We honestly believe that everybody understands that this moment must be captured and used for the betterment of the nations," he said, acknowledging "the extreme difficulties of these negotiations".

The two men also discussed Iran's nuclear programme and bilateral relations between Israel and Romania.





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