Leaders of the European Union issued an appeal Tuesday to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat, as well as the new Syrian leadership, to step up efforts towards a comprehensive Middle East peace.
"The personal engagement of the leaders of Israel and of the Palestinian Authority and their continued mutual confidence have the utmost importance," AFP quoted the joint statement which was issued by the 15 leaders at the close of a two-day summit in Portugal.
The agency added that, "the European Council appeals to Prime Minister Barak and to President Arafat to intensify their efforts with a view to concluding, within the agreed time-frame, a comprehensive agreement addressing all permanent status issues, thus bringing the conflict to an end and paving the way to reconciliation."
Turning to Syria, the EU praised the late Hafez al-Assad for resuming negotiations with Israel and called on the new Syrian leadership "to pursue the strategic choice of peace" while assuring Damascus of the EU's full support for peace efforts.
The 15-nation bloc also welcomed Israel's recent withdrawal from Lebanon -- Albawaba.com
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