US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new Middle East peace envoy on Monday, as he prepared to receive Israeli and Palestinian diplomats in Washington and President Barack Obama praised their return to the negotiating table after a three-year hiatus.
"During my March visit to the region, I experienced first-hand the profound desire for peace among both Israelis and Palestinians, which reinforced my belief that peace is both possible and necessary," President Obama said in a statement.
"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination," he added.
"This is a promising step forward, though hard work and hard choices remain ahead," Obama said.
"The United States stands ready to support them throughout these negotiations, with the goal of achieving two states, living side by side in peace and security."
Kerry said he was seeking "reasonable compromises" in Israeli-Palestinian talks as they were set to start Monday evening.
"Going forward it is no secret this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago," Kerry told reporters.
"It is no secret, therefore, that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues."
Kerry announced Monday that former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk will be Washington's Middle East peace envoy.
The talks follow an intense effort by Kerry to bring both parties together.
Indyk served twice as the US ambassador to Israel, first from 1995 to 1997 and later from 2000 to 2001, according to his biography at the Brookings Institution in Washington, where he directs the think tank's foreign policy program.
Indyk has also worked as director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council and as an assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.
He is the author of "Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's handpicked envoy Yitzhak Molcho arrived in New York moments ago, according to Israeli media reports.
Livni and Molcho are heading the Israeli negotiating team that will participate in peace talks with the Palestinian Authority that are due to begin Monday evening in Washington.
Israel Radio reported that Livni and Molcho met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon just prior to their departure for Washington.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday hailed the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Fabius vowed, in a statement released by his office, that France would spare no effort to help with the negotiations and would one day hope to participate in the implementation of a peace agreement.
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