Japan was asked by Israel on Wednesday to urge Palestinian leaders to accept a US-proposed Middle East peace plan, the Japanese foreign ministry said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami held a 20-minute telephone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Yohei Kono, a ministry official said.
"The proposal contains difficult provisions for us to accept, but we would like to move forward in achieving a peace deal based upon the (US-proposed) idea," Ben Ami told Kono, according to the official.
"We want Japan to tell Palestinian leaders to accept the proposal," Ben Ami said.
Kono responded by saying Tokyo hoped the two sides would continue a dialogue and that "Japan fully support continued Middle East peace talks."
The telephone converstaion came just ahead of a three-way summit Thursday between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
US President Bill Clinton's proposals reportedly involve Israel turning over control of Arab neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem to the Palestinians along with the al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
In addition, Israel would withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, but there would be no right of return to Israel for the some 3.7 million refugees made homeless after the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 -- TOKYO (AFP)
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