A meeting of the Four on Middle East settlement with the participation of Russia, the USA, the EU and the UN at the level of special envoys is to take place in Washington on Friday.
Russia is represented at the meeting by special envoy of the Russian Foreign Minister for Middle East settlement Andrei Vdovin who has just completed his trip to the region. The USA will be represented by US Assistant Secretary of State for the Near-Eastern Affairs William Burns. The EU and the UN will be represented by respectively special envoy of the European Union for the Middle East Miguel Moratinos and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Middle East process Terje Roed Larsen.
According to the information from diplomatic sources in the US capital, a possibility of holding a special international peace conference on the Middle East at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs will be one of the questions which the Four will discuss.
Despite the active lobbying in favour of such a conference by a number of European states that insist on holding a conference already at the end of July, the attitude of most of Arab states to the idea of such a forum is cool at the present time. They demand preliminary agreement upon its parameters and guarantees of concrete results of the conference for promoting the Middle East peace process.
The USA backs convocation of such a conference but last Monday US president George Bush said in no uncertain terms that conditions for such a forum have not ripened yet at the moment, and gave it to understand that for the time being Washington intends to keep holding active consultations with all the parties concerned.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969