Diplomatic weight builds behind Middle East peace

July 25, 2013 at 12:16 PM
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LONDON, July 25 (UPI) -- The British government said it stands in support of efforts to restart the Middle East peace process but remains committed to Israeli national security.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague met Thursday in London with Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz. The meeting followed a visit to London by delegates from The Elders, a diplomatic mission led by former heads of state and high-ranking ambassadors.

Hague said he stood in support of efforts launched by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said last week he had peace assurances from Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

"I again commended the leadership shown by both Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and President [Mahmoud] Abbas and reiterated the U.K.'s commitment to supporting them in their efforts to reach a lasting peace," he said in a statement.

Hague added the British government was "strongly committed" to Israel's security.

Elder member and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari welcomed Kerry's efforts on Middle East peace. He called on President Obama and members of the international community to put their full diplomatic weight behind the initiative.

"When I see Obama, I will tell him: one good speech is not enough to get a Nobel Peace Prize," Ahtisaari said in a statement.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The Nobel committee said the decision was largely influenced by a diplomatic outreach speech given to the Muslim community by Obama in Cairo the same year.

Ahtisaari won the prize in 2008 for his work on conflict resolution in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

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