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Lebanon: Quartet to meet in Berlin amid MidEast violence

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BERLIN, May 23 (Reuters) - The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators will meet in Berlin on May 30 amid an upsurge in violence in the region, a German foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

"We are greatly concerned about the latest violence and escalation in the Gaza Strip and in parts of Lebanon," spokesman Jens Ploettner told a regular government news conference.

"I expect a discussion of this situation will be an important part of the Quartet meeting, together with a coordination of efforts to bring about a de-escalation in the region."

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel launched air strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip as part of a two-week old bombing campaign in response to rocket attacks by militants on the Jewish state. Israeli air strikes over the week have killed at least 34 Palestinians, medical officials said in Gaza.

In Lebanon, the army has been battling the Fatah al-Islam militant group since Sunday in the country's worst internal fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The evening meeting of Quartet members -- the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States -- will follow a gathering of Group of Eight (G8) foreign ministers on the same day in Potsdam, south of the German capital.

Germany pressed its partners for a revival of the Quartet, which last met in Egypt on May 4, as part of its efforts to promote Middle East peace in its role as dual president of the European Union and G8.

But western efforts have failed to prevent an escalation of violence in the volatile region.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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