Britain\'s Cook on Mideast Mission
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will fly to the Middle East Wednesday to lend his diplomatic weight to international efforts to restore peace.
Sources at the foreign ministry said Tuesday Cook was expected to visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Syria.
"The tragic events of the last ten days have underlined more than ever the need for the peace process. It is vital that no one should be allowed to derail it," Cook said.
"I am determined that Britain should do all it can to bring the main parties together," the foreign minister added.
"I shall therefore be urging leaders on both sides to stop the violence, get back to the negotiating table and not let the peace process die."
The West Bank has been at the centre of a wave of violence over the last 13 days in which nearly 100 people have been killed in clashes pitting Palestinians and Israeli Arabs against the Israeli army and Jewish settlers.
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by telephone.
"We are doing everything we can to persuade the parties to re-engage in the peace process at all levels," a Downing Street spokesman said.
A spokesman for Assad said Blair told the Syrian president of Cook's trip during their telephone conversation.
More than 2,000 people have been injured in the violence, sparked by the visit of Israel's right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon to Jerusalem's disputed Al-Aqsa mosque compound on September 28.
Cook and Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara spoke by telephone Sunday, one day after violence flared in southern Lebanon and guerrillas of the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah, backed by both Syria and Iran, captured three Israeli soldiers.
Also Sunday, Cook urged Israel to review the degree of force its army was employing against Palestinian demonstrators -- LONDON (AFP)
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