British Foreign Secretary calls on world to work towards Middle East peace


London : British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has stressed the importance of moving towards a two-state solution in the Middle East.

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At a joint press conference Tuesday with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad following their talks at the Foreign Office, in central London, Miliband said that the international community has a role to play in calling for restraint on the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

The people of Gaza are undergoing privations because of an Israeli blockade in response to rocket attacks on Israel.

Miliband told reporters: “Progress in the Middle East towards a just and stable two-state solution requires courageous leadership, that is precisely what Prime Minister Fayyad is able to provide.”

It was necessary for the political track to move in step with practical change on the ground, for security to be improved on both sides of the border, and for economic development for the Palestinian people, Miliband said.

“We’ve discussed the grave situation in Gaza, as well as the concern we have for the state of Israel suffering rocket attacks,” he said.

This could be a key year in the movement towards a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel, the Foreign Secretary added.

For his part, Fayyad said the Palestinian Authority was hampered by its lack of influence in Gaza, but would do what it could to help. “We need a process that is seen as credible, leading to a resolution of this long-standing conflict,” he said.

Fayyad said he hoped there would be another meeting in London in early May to review progress made in the Middle East.

“In Gaza, life has become completely unbearable, and that situation should not be allowed to continue,” he pointed out. But he accepted during a question and answer session, “as far as Gaza is concerned, our influence is severely hampered by the fact that we are not in control.”

“We believe we have a role to play in trying to shape the debate on this matter,” the Palestinian Premier added.

Fayyad is also scheduled to have similar talks later Tuesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has just concluded a tour of China and India.

The Palestinian Prime Minister will also meet British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and British efforts to help the Palestinian people.