EUROPE. EC moves to break mideast logjam

Risking the wrath of Israel, the 12 European Community countries last week reiterated their support for the Palestine Liberation Organization. The show of support is part of an EC bid to restart the stalled Middle East peace process by contacting all parties concerned, including the PLO.

The surprise move follows the collapse of year-long negotiations between King Hussein of Jordan and senior PLO representatives aimed at laying a groundwork for peace between Israel and the Arab world.

Diplomats, speaking at the close of an EC foreign ministers meeting Feb. 25, said that the EC's current president, Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek, will probably travel to the Middle East in the coming weeks to determine what part the EC could play in reconciling the parties concerned.

Some analysts say the EC is uniquely positioned to disengage the clogged peace process because because none of the EC nations' ties with the region's key players are strong enough to compromise its neutrality.

Other analysts, noting the failure of previous EC-led mideast peace initiatives, say the move is bound to fail. ``Despite their wealth of genuine good intentions,'' said a US diplomat, ``it's difficult to imagine what new ideas Europe could bring to a terribly old conflict.''

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