UN chief invites Arab countries to Mideast Quartet meeting

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to a meeting this month of the Middle East Quartet seeking a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The foreign ministers of the three Arab countries will join their counterparts from Russia, the United States and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for the talks on September 30, the UN spokesman said Friday.

The secretary general of the Arab League will also attend the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly gathering of world leaders.

The invitation follows a decision by the Quartet in February to include Arab countries in the diplomatic effort to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking in Luxembourg earlier, Mogherini said the European Union had “revitalized the work of the Quartet” and voiced hope that this could help “re-open prospective and political horizons to the talks.”

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been comatose since a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year, and a war in the Gaza Strip last summer left 2,200 Palestinians dead.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that expanding the Quartet to Arab countries would be a way to revisit a peace plan put forward by Arab states.

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories in exchange for full normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world.