Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D., pays first visit to the Middle East
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D., will make
his first visit to the Middle East this week. Minister Martin
departs Dublin today on a three day visit which will focus on
regional and international efforts to restore momentum to the peace
Commenting in advance of the visit, Minister Martin stated:
“I regard this visit as an important signal of the continuing strong commitment of the Government to supporting a lasting and peaceful settlement to the problems of the Middle East. Ireland is a longstanding supporter of the establishment of a Palestinian State, and this remains one of the most important foreign policy objectives of the European Union. We have strong relations with Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I will work to see our relations develop and broaden, in all sectors: political, economic, social and cultural.
I look forward to discussing with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian political leaders how we and our EU partners can support urgent efforts to restore momentum to the political process. I want to discuss openly the prospects for peace at a difficult time, building on the ceasefire in Gaza and the series of contacts between the parties which are now underway across the region. And I look forward to visiting the Occupied Territories and to discussing with Palestinian people the conditions of their daily life and their hopes and needs for the future”.
Note to Editors:
On Wednesday, the Minister will hold discussions with the Egyptian Government and with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, on efforts to build on the ceasefire in Gaza, which was brokered by Egypt. He will also discuss regional issues, including the situation in Lebanon, and developments in Sudan / Darfur and in Chad. With the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, he will review progress in building the Irish- Egyptian economic relationship, following up on the trade mission to Egypt which he led, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, last November.
On Thursday morning the Minister will visit the West Bank, with meetings with UNRWA and local officials in Bethlehem and with Palestinian political leaders in Ramallah, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The focus will be on the political process, the humanitarian and security situation, the effect of settlements, the security barrier and other measures, and assistance to the Palestinian people. The EU remains the largest donor to the Palestinian people, and Ireland’s assistance has risen by 70% since 2005, to €7.5 million last year.
Meetings with Israeli political leaders will include a working lunch with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, covering the Israeli – Palestinian negotiations, the situation in the Occupied Territories, wider regional developments, and the development of the bilateral political and economic relationship between Ireland and Israel. Minister Martin will visit and lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Friday morning.
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