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Mideast Talks on Environment End Without a Final Statement

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A round of multilateral Middle East peace talks on environmental issues ended in The Hague this week without a final communique, when Israeli and Palestinian delegates failed to agree on terminology.

Palestinian insistence on a “national Palestinian” label for joint research with Israel met with objections from Israel.

The two days of talks, which began Monday, ended without a joint statement despite efforts by the Japanese chairman to bridge the gap after some progress had been made on such issues as oil pollution of the sea.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department reported that the talks were substantive and productive. Among the items discussed were environmental profiles of the Gaza Strip and the eastern Mediterranean.

Thirty-seven countries and organizations attended the meeting, though Syria and Lebanon boycotted it. An earlier round of talks was held in Tokyo last May, and the next session is scheduled for February.

Four other sets of multilateral talks on regional issues are in progress. They include meetings on arms control, which opened last month in Moscow; water resources, held last month in Washington; economic development, due to open Thursday in Paris; and refugee affairs, set to open Nov. 11 in Ottawa.

The multilateral talks are a counterpart to the bilateral talks involving Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinians. The seventh round of those talks began last week in Washington and was due to recess Thursday.

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