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'Courage' urged in Mideast talks

Foreign Secretary William Hague has called on all parties in the Middle East peace process to show "commitment, perseverance and courage" during historic direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Mr Hague said the European Union will do "all we can to buttress" the talks between Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Washington.

Speaking at the Foreign Office, Mr Hague said: "The parties involved will need to show commitment, perseverance and courage to achieve the lasting peace that Israelis and Palestinians deserve and we support them fully in that effort."

Mr Hague, speaking following talks with German counterpart Guido Westerwelle, said: "We are agreed on the historic importance of these talks and we stand ready with our European partners to do all we can to buttress these talks."

The Foreign Secretary added: "We look to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to show the perseverance, commitment and courage needed to achieve a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a safe and secure Israel and their other neighbours in the region.

"Failure would be very serious so we hope that the courage and commitment will be shown to bring about that success."

The press conference was dominated by questions about the personal statement issued by the Foreign Secretary in which he denied having an "improper" relationship with a male aide and insisted his marriage was secure.

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