The European Union's foreign policy chief has begun talks with top Israeli officials in a bid to push forward the "road map" peace plan with the Palestinians.
EU envoy Javier Solana began two days of meetings Sunday that are due to include talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Mr. Solana's visit comes amid an escalation of violence in the region following the August 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem.
Mr. Solana is championing the "road map" peace plan that envisions the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. Israeli officials are pushing the European Union to declare the political wing of the radical Islamist group Hamas a terrorist organization.
Mr. Solana arrived in Tel Aviv from Iran, where he urged Iranian officials to accept international inspections of their nuclear program.