Malta is not picking sides between Israel and Palestine but rather wants mutual recognition and peace between the two, Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Speaking at an informal working breakfast foreign ministers from the EU28 had with Mr Netanyahu, Dr Abela reiterated his concern at US President Donald Trump's decision last week to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

“We believe that the aspirations of the Israelis and the Palestinians must be fulfilled and that a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both States," Dr Abela said. 

"Malta will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem and our embassy will remain in Tel Aviv until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved." 

Discussions with Mr Netanyahu took place on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council and the Foreign Affairs (Development) Council and were chaired by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Mr Netanyahu had entered the talks saying he hoped EU leaders would follow the US' lead, but those hopes were firmly dashed, with European politicians telling the Israeli Prime Minister they rejected Mr Trump's Jerusalem move. 

Malta's foreign minister will pay an official visit to Israel and Palestine later this month. He will use the visit to discuss ways to further enhance EU and bilateral relations and ways in which Malta might help the Middle East peace process move along, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement

Iraq, Sahel on Council agenda

The EU's foreign affairs council also discussed the situation in Iraq, developments in the Middle East and Libya  and EU cooperation with Sahel states Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.

Dr Abela briefed his counterparts on his official visit to Libya in November, when he met with Muhammed Taher Siala, who serves as Foreign Affairs Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Fayez al Sarraj, President of the Presidency Council.

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