Striving to make the European Union relevant to the Middle East peace process, Catherine Ashton, the new EU foreign policy chief, visits the region.

Beginning her trip in Egypt on Monday, she is scheduled to visit Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories over the course of the week.

It underscores the European Union's efforts to better engage in the Middle East.

With an ambitious plan to meet key players in six countries, can the Europeans succeed in what the Americans have failed to achieve over decades? Will the current tension between the US and Israel help or hinder a real European role in Middle East peace process?

Inside Story is joined by Mustafa Barghouti, the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, Richard Youngs, the director general of Fride, a think tank focusing on EU policy. He was previously an analyst at the UK Foreign Office.

Also joining the programme is David Mack, a scholar at the Middle East Institute and a former US ambassador to the UAE.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, March 15, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera