US Continues Push for Middle East Direct Talks

Washington, Aug 14 (IANS): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called key regional leaders, continuing the America's push to start Middle East direct talks, the State Department said Friday.

"Secretary Clinton discussed with Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu on issues to be resolved for direct negotiations to begin," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in his Twitter messages.

"Secretary Clinton also talked with Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh and Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit about negotiation details," Crowley was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Israel and the Palestinians have started proximity talks since May, but no meaningful result has been achieved so far.

The US has been pressuring the Palestinians and Israelis to start direct peace talks by September, deeming it the only way to strike a peace deal.

Netanyahu said he is ready to sit down face-to-face with the Palestinians but refuses to set any precondition for the talks.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he will not jump to direct talks, which halted in 2008, before achieving progress on security and border issues.

In a potential sign of breakthrough, Abbas indicated Monday he could go to direct talks, if they were based on a March statement by the "Quartet" of Middle East peace mediators, namely the US, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

The Quartet's March statement called for establishing the Palestinian state based on borders existed before 1967, setting a 24-month time frame for negotiations and suspending all Israeli settlement activities.


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Title: US Continues Push for Middle East Direct Talks

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