South Africa will attend West Asia peace talks

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JOHANNESBURG, Nov 24 (Reuters) South Africa will attend West Asia peace talks in Annapolis, Maryland next week, the Foreign Affairs Ministry told SABC radio today.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will represent South Africa at Tuesday's one-day summit which aims to restart peace talks after seven years of deadlock.

Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa told SABC that South Africa hoped to use its own record of healing divisions between peoples to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians.

''The minister will participate in the conference as part of South Africa's efforts to contribute a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,'' Mamoepa said.

The United States has invited more than 40 countries, including some such as Saudi Arabia that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel, to attend the summit.

''South Africa hopes to contribute its experience in the transition to democracy as part of the international effort to bring about an end to the West Asia conflict,'' Mamoepa said.

After decades of white rule, South Africa's politicians negotiated a peaceful settlement which allowed blacks to vote for the first time in 1994.

South Africa has since helped mediate crises in a number of African nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

REUTERS RJ RAI1907

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