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Mideast Quartet calls on Israel, Palestine to end provocations

(Xinhua)

15:52, March 13, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Middle East Quartet on Monday called upon the Israelis and Palestinians to end " provocative actions" and make more efforts to revive the stalled peace process.

The Quartet, which groups the United Nations, Russia, the United States and the European Union and Quartet Representative Tony Blair met at the UN Headquarters in New York to "assess developments since its statement of 23 September 2011," said a statement issued after the group's closed consultations.

"The Quartet reiterates its call on the parties to remain engaged and to refrain from provocative actions," said the statement. "The Quartet decided to meet in Washington in April."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the talks of Quartet on the sideline of a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council on the current situation in the Middle East.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attended the meeting behind closed doors. Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign affairs representative, took part in the Quartet talks in New York via video links.

"Quartet Principals remain committed to the overall objectives of the statement. In this regard, they welcome the important effort led by Jordan, which began in early January, as part of the shared commitment to reach a negotiated agreement by the end of this year," the statement said.

"The Quartet also discussed the grave situation in Gaza and southern Israel, expressed serious concern for the recent escalation and called for calm," the statement said.

The Quartet meeting, the first since September 2011 to revive the peace process in the Middle East, occurred after Israeli air force pounded Gaza overnight and killed at least 18 in the coastal enclave since Friday when a new wave of conflict erupted.

The violence started when Israel killed the leader of the militant group Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and his assistant while they were driving in the Gaza City.

Israel said that it killed the PRC chief to thwart his plans to attack Israel from Gazai's border with Egypt.

Militant responded with rockets toward some Israeli communities near Gaza, and the Israeli drones chased the fighters down, hitting 12 Islamic Jihad militants and four PRC fighters over the past two days.

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