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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
EU talks on Mid-East peace plan
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja
Erkki Tuomioja proposes talking to Hamas as part of EU efforts
Finland, current holder of the EU presidency, is to propose talks on a renewed peace plan in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja is due to put the idea to EU colleagues at a meeting in Finland.

He said the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah had shown the need for reviving - and if necessary updating - the road map peace plan.

He said it was time for the EU to consider whether it could enhance its role in the region.

In remarks to the Financial Times newspaper, Mr Tuomioja said the EU should talk to Palestinian militant group Hamas, as part of its policy of having dialogue with every group relevant to a peace settlement.

Hamas, which forms the current Palestinian administration, is banned by the EU and US and branded a terrorist group.

Earlier this year the US and EU froze aid to the Palestinian Authority because Hamas has refused to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

Two days of talks, starting on Friday, between EU foreign ministers are taking place at a lakeside fortress in the southern Finnish town of Lappeenranta.

Among other likely topics at the meeting are future contacts with Iran over the uranium enrichment issue.

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