Iran General NewsProgress on Mideast talks, Iran vital: Miliband

Progress on Mideast talks, Iran vital: Miliband

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AFP: The world must act now to keep alive the prospects of a two-state solution in the Middle East or see the opportunity disappear, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Sunday. LONDON (AFP) — The world must act now to keep alive the prospects of a two-state solution in the Middle East or see the opportunity disappear, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Sunday.

Miliband said the peace process was at a “crucial point” 40 years from the passing of UN Security Resolution 242 in 1967, which formed the basis for all subsequent efforts to end violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We’re at crunch point because 40 years on (from the resolution), the window of opportunity for a two-state solution will narrow and even close unless we jam it open,” he told BBC television.

“We have to jam it open, first of all by keeping absolutely clear the political goals and giving political momentum to that idea of a two-state solution.

“Secondly, we have to address the short-term economic and social and security needs of Palestinians and Israelis — and that is absolutely critical over the next few months.”

Miliband, who was reportedly unhappy with Britain’s refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with Lebanon last year, was responding to a suggestion that London was “joined at the hip” with the Jewish state.

He said the government was “absolutely clear” that Israel’s right to exist had to be the foundation of its policy in the Middle East as well as addressing the plight of the Palestinians through the creation of a separate state.

Miliband said he is to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday.

A Foreign Office spokesman told AFP this was likely to be on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, where representatives of the Mideast Quartet of the UN, European Union, United States and Russia were also meeting.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to hold talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London in late October ahead of a US-sponsored international Mideast peace conference expected the following month, an Israeli official said Sunday.

Miliband has meanwhile said Britain’s position is unchanged towards Iran, despite comments by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that the world must “prepare for the worst” should diplomacy fail over its nuclear programme.

Asked directly if war was an option if progress was not made, Miliband told the BBC: “I want you to focus on what I do say rather than what I don’t say.

“And what I am saying is that 100 percent of our effort and 100 percent of the effort around the world is to make sure that we find a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of this issue.”

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