Vienna, 6 December 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Middle East - the focus of today's challenges"


Foreign Minister's statement following her visit to Jordan

Vienna, 6 December 2006 - "In Lebanon's present critical situation it is important to support the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which stands for stability and political dialogue. All decisive political forces in Lebanon and the neighbours and states in the region are called upon to support the democratic development and the peaceful discussions. After this summer's destructive conflict it is irresponsible to play upon the emotions of the street. Lebanon needs political stability and peace because only then can effective reconstruction take place. After all, it is reconstruction and constructive cooperation that the sorely afflicted people in Lebanon need most," said Foreign Minister Plassnik after her return from her three-day trip to the Middle East.

On the last day of her visit to the Middle East the Foreign Minister met with her Jordanian counterpart Abdelelah Al-Khatib and Jordan's Minister of the Interior Major General Mohammed Dahabi in Amman. Their talks focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in the Middle East.

"Jordan has a special role to play as a bridge-builder in the region. It is important now that Jordan continues to make an active contribution to conflict resolution, at a time when there is a renewed chance of a positive development in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," emphasised Plassnik, who recalled that the only meeting held between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestian President Mahmoud Abbas had taken place in Jordan.

Another focus of Plassnik's talks with Foreign Minister Al-Khatib was the dialogue between cultures and religions. "In this question too Jordan traditionally plays a particularly dedicated role, as shown, for instance, by King Abdullah II's and Prince Hassan's contributions. Efforts towards an active long-term dialogue must not be forced into the background by the tense situation in the region. On the contrary, it is precisely in the Middle East as a focus of many religions and cultures where dialogue must stand its most important test," concluded Plassnik.

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