he positive outcome of the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference on the Middle East raised hopes for a lasting peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.
Commenting on the Annapolis conference at which it was agreed that an independent Palestinian state would be created by the end of 2008, Merkel told the German parliament there are reasons to hope that two independent states could co-exist in peace.
She also emphasized Germany's "very special historic responsibility" for the security and existence of Israel.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Annapolis conference on the Middle East.
The expectations of the conference have been completely fulfilled, Steinmeier said in Washington after attending the talks. He predicted that a follow-up to the peace conference would be held in Moscow as early as next spring.
Initiated by U.S. President George W. Bush, representatives of more than 40 countries, regions and international organizations convened a meeting on the Middle East peace process at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis Tuesday.
It was the first major international conference on the Middle East sponsored by the Bush administration in seven years.