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EU says continues Mideast peace role despite Israel move

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini address the media after their meeting in Jerusalem May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Dan Balilty

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and the European Union said it would continue its role in Middle East peace diplomacy despite Israel saying it was suspending contact.

Asked about Israel’s move on Sunday to suspend contact with the EU over the bloc’s reinforcement of labeling rules on imports from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a European Commission spokeswoman said Mogherini met Netanyahu in Paris on the sidelines of the global climate conference.

“EU-Israel relations are good, broad and deep and this will continue,” the spokeswoman told a news briefing in Brussels, playing down the labeling decision as merely the implementation of an existing policy already being enforced by some EU states.

“When it comes to the Middle East peace process, the EU continues and will continue to work on this in the Quartet with our partners with both parties because of course peace in the Middle East is of interest to the whole international community,” the spokesman added.

The European Union is one of the four members of the Quartet of peace brokers, along with the United Nations, United States and Russia.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Philip Blenkinsop