Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Saturday held talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Bildt praised the new government as a significant step forward toward meeting the international conditions for recognizing Israel.

"We will cooperate with the foreign minister and others obviously, and we will look not only at the words, but also deeds of this government," he said.

He said his country would not have contact with Hamas officials for the time being, and urged the group to work to free an Israeli soldier held by Hamas-allied militants and to halt rocket attacks out of the Gaza Strip.

"Of particular importance is, of course, that conditions are created for a resumption of the peace process," Bildt said.

Abu Amr welcomed Europe's new willingness to deal with the government. He said he expects next week's Arab summit in Saudi Arabia to reiterate its commitment to the Arab peace initiative.

Since the formation of the new government, several countries have announced they would deal with its non-Hamas members. Two independents, Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, have been holding a series of meetings with senior visiting diplomats.

Among those holding talks in Ramallah were the top EU envoy to the Middle East, Marc Otte, and Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht.

Bildt also planned to meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and members of the Knesset. Israel has urged the international community to shun all members of the new government, and said it will limit talks with Abbas to humanitarian issues.

Norway, a major donor to the Palestinians, was the first country to lift sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. Norway's deputy foreign minister Raymond Johansen met earlier this week with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, becoming the first high-ranking Western official to do so.

Russia and France have said sanctions against the Palestinian Authority should be lifted.

France has invited Abu Amr, and his office said the date suggested by Paris was April 2.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Suboh said Abu Amr might not be able to fly on that date because of scheduling problems.