This evening (28 January) Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke on the telephone with the new American envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
Their conversation focused on current efforts to achieve a durable ceasefire in Gaza. Federal Minister Steinmeier welcomed the new US Administration's determination to commit itself intensively to resolving the Middle East conflict. This had been made clear, he continued, not only by the appointment of an envoy but also by the fact that Mr Mitchell was already visiting the region.
The latest developments on the Gaza border showed how fragile the present truce was. The aim of all joint efforts had to be to silence the guns for good, he said.
Steinmeier, emphasizing that the European Union also wanted to play an active role in resolving the conflict, set out the EU Work Plan for Gaza adopted yesterday in Brussels, on Germany's initiative. In that Plan the EU had agreed on the main areas of its further commitment in the Middle East – humanitarian action, reconstruction, the opening of border crossings, effective border control and the prevention of arms trafficking, as well as intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the resumption of a political process.
The EU would work hand in hand with the US in implementing the Work Plan, Steinmeier went on.
He invited the envoy to visit Berlin soon, and they agreed to remain in close touch over the coming weeks.