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US officials: Mideast talks may start soon

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it is near to securing an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks. Some US officials said an announcement could be imminent.
The State Department said an agreement was "very, very close" but that details were still being worked out. An announcement could come as early as Friday or Saturday, said administration officials familiar with the matter. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the delicacy of the ongoing diplomacy.
"We think we are very, very close to a decision by the parties to enter into direct negotiations," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters. "We think we're well positioned to get there."
To that end, he said, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad late Wednesday and spoken Thursday with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the special representative of the "Quartet" of Mideast peacemakers — the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia.
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