Ministers meet to relaunch Mideast peace process


The international effort to re-launch the Middle East peace process began at the United Nations today with ministers from Arab states and Israel meeting with representatives from the EU, US, Russia and the UN.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (R) speaks Terje Roe-Larsen, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process, at the UN during a quartet meeting in New York today.

One of the quartet members, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, had separate meetings earlier with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and with his Israeli counterpart, Mr Shimon Peres.

Other members of the quartet are UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the EU's current president, Danish Foreign Minister Mr Per Stig Moeller, its foreign policy chief Mr Javier Solana, and the external affairs commissioner, Mr Chris Patten.

The meeting has been largely preoccupied with the question of Iraq and against the backdrop of another Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip and a bomb blast at a Palestinian school in the West Bank that wounded five children.