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Swiss ready to support Middle East peace process

Ninety people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed during two weeks of clashes


The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has re-affirmed Switzerland's willingnes to support the faltering Middle East peace process.

Deiss said on Wednesday that Switzerland was ready to help in the work of an international commission, which the Palestinians want set up to investigate the violence that has wracked the Middle East over the past two weeks.

Speaking at the end of a visit to Thailand, Deiss expressed his "profound preoccupation" at the recent outbreak of violence, and called on all sides to stop the fighting.

Deiss's comments come a week after the United Nations Security Council resolution called for an investigative mechanism to probe the causes behind the violence.

It is not clear how the investigative group will be established and what its terms of reference will be.

"Switzerland would certainly be prepared to help in the work of any such commission, but it is not clear yet how it will be formed" foreign ministry spokeswoman, Daniela Stoffel, told swissinfo.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has called for a commission of inquiry into the deaths of about 90 people, mostly Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, as a condition for continuing the peace process.

However, Stoffel added it was far from clear whether Israel would drop its opposition to such a commission.

The foreign ministry in Berne confirmed there had been diplomatic contacts to see how Switzerland could help in the peace process.

by Ron Popper

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