German foreign minister meets with Israeli and Palestinian officials

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will travel to the Middle East Sunday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials following Hamas' election victory, a spokesman said. Steinmeier will travel to Israel , the Palestinian territories and Jordan and plans also to visit Turkey , ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said Friday.

Steinmeier will discuss the dispute over Iran 's nuclear program as well as Israeli-Palestinian relations after the elections that brought the militant Hamas to power, Jaeger said. A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated Friday that a government formed by Hamas would have to recognize Israel 's right to exist, renounce violence and disarm.

"When a government has formed, one will measure this government on these three points," Merkel's spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said. On his trip, Steinmeier was also to discuss the Muslim protests over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers.

The minister is in "very intensive contact" with his European counterparts on that issue as well as with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the head of the Arab League, Jaeger said, reports the AP.

N.U.

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