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No alternative to two-state Mideast solution: Merkel

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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that a two-state solution was the only path to peace in the Middle East and urged the new Israeli government to move quickly to begin talks with the Palestinians.

Merkel was speaking ahead of a visit to Berlin Thursday by ultranationalist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has voiced opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“As far as Middle East peace is concerned, we want to continue to focus on a two-state solution,” Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah.

She described the coming months as “decisive” and said progress between Israel and the Palestinians was essential for the success of western efforts to reach a deal with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Abdullah said the goal was to get Israel and the Palestinians to sit down at the negotiating table in the coming months.

Lieberman began his tour of European countries Monday in Italy, where he described Iran’s nuclear work as a “destabilizing factor for the entire world.”

He is viewed with skepticism by the government in Berlin, where he is due to meet members of the foreign affairs committee of the German parliament and dine with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier but not make any public statements.

Reporting by Andreas Moeser; Writing by Noah Barkin; editing by Ralph Boulton