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EU seeks ‘fresh start’ with Israel as foreign policy chief Borrell holds talks

Published: Updated:

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday the bloc was hoping for a fresh start with Israel’s new government, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held talks in Brussels.

“It’s important that the new Israeli government comes here to Brussels -- it is an opportunity for a fresh start,” Borrell said after meeting Lapid.

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“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to restart our relations, which in the past were quite deteriorated.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described the visit as a “good sign” and said the bloc was looking to resume meetings of the EU-Israel Association Council -- last held in almost a decade ago -- designed to improve ties between the two sides.

Lapid was to meet all EU 27 foreign ministers for joint talks.

The EU is eyeing greater cooperation with Israel after a disparate coalition --- masterminded by centrist Lapid -- came together last month to oust veteran right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Relations were tense between Brussels and Netanyahu, who pushed to sideline the EU as a player in the volatile region.

But thorny issues remain as the EU is pushing for a resumption of the search for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and seeking to broker the return of the United States to the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.

Read more: EU calls for stop to Israeli demolition of Palestinian buildings