I had hoped to meet President Abbas at the General Affairs and External Relations Council last month but, unfortunately, pressure of commitments in the region prevented him from taking up the Council's invitation to attend. I intend to visit the Middle East region in the near future. I hope to have an opportunity to meet President Abbas then.
We are, of course, in regular and ongoing contact with the Palestinian Authority through diplomatic channels. The Taoiseach telephoned President Mahmoud Abbas to congratulate him on his success in the elections. In the course of this call, he assured President Abbas of Ireland's continuing support for efforts to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have also written to my own counterpart, the newly appointed Palestinian Foreign Minister, Nasser Al-Kidwa, congratulating him on his appointment and looking forward to an early meeting.
The Government stands ready, in concert with our EU partners, to assist the parties to the conflict in their efforts to move forward on the basis of the road map. Ireland, through its membership of the European Union and its relations with Palestine, Israel, the United States, Arab and other key partners, will strongly support early action, led by the quartet, to advance the implementation of the road map.