EU Foreign Policy Chief Coming to Israel
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is in the Middle East, arriving in Israel at midweek for meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Ashton was scheduled to start her five-day tour on Monday with a stop at the Za'atary refugee camp in Jordan, home to some 36,000 Syrians, her office told the AFP news agency. During the stop, she was to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
United Nations figures show more than 85,000 refugees from the 19-month-old civil war registered in Jordan, with another 36,000 awaiting processing.
Ashton was scheduled to go to Beirut on Tuesday and arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak..
She is expected to travel on Thursday to the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah, in Samaria, to meet with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"This is a critical time for the wider Middle East,” Ashton said in a statement to journalists on Monday. "The close cooperation between the European Union and our partners in the region is essential to help us deal with the political, strategic and humanitarian challenges we face at this time. The objective of this trip is to take this cooperation forward as effectively as possible,” she added.