Mitchell: Palestinians are interested in talks with Israel

Speaking after meeting with Egyptian president in Cairo, US envoy claims both sides want to continue negotiations; Egyptian FM backs Palestinian position on settlement construction.

Mitchell 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mitchell 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Palestinians are interested in peace talks with Israel continuing, US envoy George Mitchell said in Cairo on Sunday during a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"Despite their differences, both the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have asked us to continue these discussions in an effort to establish the conditions under which they can continue direct negotiations," Mitchell told reporters after his meeting with Mubarak.
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"They both want to continue these negotiations, they do not want to stop the talks," he added.
Mitchell then traveled to Jordan where he is expected to meet with King Abdullah II.
Directly after the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit backed the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate with Israel as long as it continues to build West Bank settlements, even as officials urged continued diplomacy Sunday to salvage the month-old talks.
"We understand the Palestinian position which calls for setting the appropriate environment and circumstances for negotiations to take place and continue," Aboul Gheit said. "The current conditions are not favorable."
Aboul Gheit said the focus now should be on continued US and international efforts to pressure Israel into agreeing to extending the settlement moratorium.