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OPT: Ban Ki-moon to attend Quartet meeting on Middle East next week

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend a meeting of the Middle East Quartet, the international diplomatic grouping trying to advance the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, in Berlin next week, his spokesperson announced today.

Next Wednesday's meeting in the German capital will take place at a time of mounting concern at the situation in the region after a week of deadly violence involving intra-Palestinian clashes, Israeli military operations and Palestinian rocket attacks.

Mr. Ban and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have both issued statements expressing concern about the upsurge in deadly violence and the effect it is having on the civilian population.

The Quartet - which brings together the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States - has called repeatedly in the past for Israel and the Palestinians to follow the Road Map, which lays out mutual steps to achieve a two-State solution to the conflict, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace.

The Berlin meeting is expected to be attended by Mr. Ban, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU High Representative for Common Security and Foreign Policy Javier Solana and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.