US hopeful on ME peace talks following Clinton-Mubarak meeting

The Obama administration is hopeful that conditions can be created soon to resume stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the US State Department said Monday ahead of talks between President Barack Obama and Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. "We're trying to work hard to create conditions for negotiation to continue and we hope to have this phase of this process completed in the next few weeks," spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters after an hour-long meeting between Mubarak and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Washington hotel. Crowley said Egypt and the United States agreed that all sides - Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states - need to take "parallel steps" to set the stage for a return to negotiations. Those include a halt to settlement activity by Israel, Palestinian moves to improve security and gestures by Arab nations toward normalization of relations with Israel. "I think Egypt and the United States share the view that we have to have parallel steps here," he said. Obama will meet with Mubarak at the White House on Tuesday.