Germany to host Palestinian security conference

June 19th, 2008 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, June 19 (DPA) Some 50 delegations are expected to attend a major conference on Palestinian security hosted by Germany next week, organisers said Thursday. The aim of the June 24 gathering in Berlin is to send a clear signal for the development of a functioning Palestinian state with a profile its citizens can see.

Around 20 foreign ministers are due to attend the Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law, which will be opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Although it is not a pledging conference, German diplomats hope the meeting will raise $183.6 million over the next three years for police training, equipment and judicial projects.

“Germany will make a substantial contribution,” one source said, without giving a figure.

The money will be used for concrete projects to modernise or build new police stations in the West Bank and improve the criminal justice infrastructure and court administration.

The Gaza Strip, under the control of the militant Hamas movement, is not covered by the programme, which involves regular Palestinian police and not the national security forces, the diplomats said.

Among those attending are Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Egyptian Foreign Minister Abu Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa. Syria is not sending a delegation.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and international Mideast special envoy Tony Blair will also be present.

Following the conference, Rice, Lavrov and Blair will join EU foreign policy supremo Javier Solana and a representative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting of the Mideast Quartet of mediators.

The Berlin conference comes in the wake of a major donors’ conference in Paris in December which raised $7.4 billion in aid for the cash-starved Palestinians.

Some of the planned funds will go towards expanding the role of the European Union (EU) training programme for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ police force.

Currently, there are 30 EU police advisers in the West Bank and the number could be increased by augmenting another 20, the diplomats said.

With well-equipped security authorities and an independent judiciary, the Palestinian Authority would be in a position to speed up political and economic development, they added.

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