Mediterranean summit delayed by stalled Mideast peace talks

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MADRID: A Mediterranean Union summit planned for Nov. 21 in Barcelona has been postponed again because the Middle East peace talks are "deadlocked", the Spanish government said Monday.

"Given the evidence that the deadlocked peace process in the Middle East would make a satisfactory participation in the summit scheduled for Nov. 21 impossible, the co-presidency and Spain have decided to postpone it," it said in a statement.

Egypt and France co-chair the Mediterranean Union, while Spain hosts the group’s headquarters in Barcelona.

The three nations "want this summit to be held in Barcelona in the coming months," the statement added.

"Given this objective they call for an early resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the basis of international law, the agreements signed between the parties and other terms of reference of the peace process."

The latest round of Middle East peace talks was relaunched in September in Washington but ground to a halt when a 10-month partial moratorium on Israeli settlement building on occupied land expired on Sept. 26.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has refused to return to the table until the moratorium is reimposed.

US President Barack Obama praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday for considering a new settlement freeze and voiced hope of a deal to get Middle East peace talks back on track.

Under the proposals Israel would receive political and military benefits from the United States in exchange for a one-off, 90-day moratorium on new Jewish construction in the West Bank.

The second summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, initially scheduled to take place on June 7 in Barcelona, had been postponed to November to give peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians a chance to yield results.

Launched at a Paris summit in July 2008, the 43-nation Mediterranean Union groups all 27 EU member states with countries in North Africa, the Balkans, the Arab world as well as Israel in a bid to foster cooperation in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

The group, headed by Jordan’s Ahmad Masa’deh, staged its first summit in July 2008.

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