Danish FM Calls for Talks, Rather Than Regional Conference

COPENHAGEN - Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country is about to take over the EU presidency, will present a new Middle East peace plan to his US counterpart Colin Powell in Washington, he told a Danish newspaper.

Denmark, which assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency from Spain on Monday, is pushing for a series of meetings of experts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather than the holding of major peace conference, Moeller told the weekly Soendagsavisen.

"We must abandon the idea of calling a major international peace conference to find a solution to this conflict," he said. It is not a good idea. We cannot even get the two parties to the negotiating table."

Denmark "will instead propose, on behalf of the EU, that we begin with series of meetings on specific subjects, like for example the question of Palestinian refugees, the security problems between Israelis and Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, etc..," he said.

Under the plan, the United States, the EU, Russia, Arab countries, Israel and the Palestinians will take part in these meetings, which should lead to the organising of a large international peace conference.

At the G8 Kananaskis summit in Canada, the EU rejected calls from US President George W. Bush Monday for the Palestinians to reject President Yasser Arafat, insisting that the Palestinians should make their own choice in the elections.