WASHINGTON - Senior officials from the White House and State Department said that Palestinian action against Israel at the United Nations is highly unlikely so long as negotiations continue.

While not explicitly saying that the Palestinian Authority had agreed to cease its campaign at the UN, the officials suggested referral to the International Criminal Court was addressed before talks began Tuesday in Washington.

"It's no secret that one of the motivating factors, I think for everybody, was to avoid that sort of train wreck that would have happened if we weren't able to get negotiations started," a senior White House official told reporters.

"No guarantees of anything," he added, when asked about Palestinian threats to refer Israel to the ICC, but "so long as this process is moving forward, I think the risk of that sort of thing are reduced if not entirely eliminated."

The parties have agreed to negotiate over a period of nine months with the goal of reaching a final status peace agreement between two independent states.

A senior State Department official added, "the parties have agreed to take affirmative steps to create a positive atmosphere for negotiations," in responding to actions at the UN. "And both sides are going to take that very seriously."

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