WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will try to accelerate the prospects of face-to-face peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians when he meets Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, White House officials said Friday.
Obama's latest personal venture into the vexing Middle East situation comes after his special envoy, George Mitchell, shuttled for weeks between the two sides in search of common ground. The White House hopes to pivot from these so-called proximity talks to direct negotiations between the parties, and soon.
"The gaps have narrowed," said Daniel Shapiro, senior Middle East director at the National Security Council, told reporters on Friday. "And we believe there are opportunities to further narrow those gaps, to allow the sides to take that next step to the direct talks. And so we're encouraged."