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Israel FM: EU Must Confront Iran Before Peace Process


Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman looks on prior to his meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, not seen, in Jerusalem, Feb 15, 2011

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman looks on prior to his meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, not seen, in Jerusalem, Feb 15, 2011

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is urging the European Union to confront what he called the "problem of Iran," before tackling the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Lieberman made his comments Tuesday at the start of a meeting with EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton.

Lieberman said that he believes Iran's disputed nuclear program hinders the Middle East process from moving forward.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful means. But the West fears Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. Lieberman said once the Iran dispute is settled, Israel's "willingness to take risks in solving the Palestinian problem will increase."

Ashton came to Israel on Tuesday for talks with officials on reviving the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Talks between the two sides on possible statehood and borders broke down last year after an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction expired in September. Palestinians oppose Israel building on land that they want as part of a future state.

Another Mideast peace Quartet meeting - made up of the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations - is scheduled in March in Brussels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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