'We see eye-to-eye on direct talks'

US envoy Mitchell meets with Netanyahu to promote peace process.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
August 11, 2010 15:44
1 minute read.
US envoy George Mitchell meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

311_Bibi and mitchell. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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US envoy George Mitchell entered a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to discuss advancing direct talks with the Palestinians.

"We see eye to eye on the need open up direct talks with the Palestinians," Mitchell said about Netanyahu in comments made before the meeting.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Mitchell on Tuesday failed to reach agreement on the issue of direct talks between the PA and Israel.

The two men met in Ramallah to discuss the latest developments surrounding the peace process and US efforts to launch direct talks between the two parties.

Abbas reiterated during the three-hour meeting his readiness to move to direct talks with Israel if a number of conditions were met, including Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

Still, the US envoy came out of the meeting indicating that progress had been made ahead of a meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday.



He called the encounter with Abbas “serious and positive,” according to US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

“They’re getting closer,” Crowley said, “but we have not yet reached home plate.”

Mitchell referred to a “defined timeline” and “agenda” for talks, according to Crowley, which is something else the Palestinians are seeking as a condition of direct negotiations.

Crowley also indicated that there might be movement on another Palestinian demand, that the Quartet re-issue its statement calling on Israel to halt settlements, noting that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been consulting with her counterparts on the international body comprising the US, EU, UN and Russia.

“If a Quartet statement can be helpful in encouraging the parties to move forward, obviously I think that’s something the United States supports,” Crowley said.

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.

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