Collapse of ME talks :
US envoy seeks progress
ISRAEL: Washington's Middle East peace envoy said Monday he would
strive to achieve "real progress" in the coming months toward a Middle
East framework peace deal, despite the collapse of direct
Launching the first round of shuttle diplomacy since negotiations hit
an impasse over Jewish settlement building, George Mitchell met Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem.
"In the days ahead our discussion with both sides will be substantive
two-way conversations, with an eye toward making real progress in the
next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework
agreement," Mitchell said as talks began.
Mitchell shuttled between Israeli and Palestinian leaders for months
before direct talks began in September. They broke down weeks later when
Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month freeze on housing starts in
settlements in the occupied West Bank. Earlier this month Washington
formally abandoned efforts to persuade Israel to agree to a partial
renewal of the settlement moratorium in exchange for security
Netanyahu praised Washington's move, telling a business forum in Tel
Aviv on Monday: "I welcome this American decision. It is good for
Israel. It is good for peace." Standing beside Mitchell later in
Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the goal was now "a new path, to achieve a
common goal which is to get a framework agreement for peace that will
ensure both peace and security."
Mitchell will hold separate talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas on Tuesday in the occupied West Bank.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Friday the U.S. would
refocus efforts on a return to indirect talks and would push to resolve
core issues in the six-decade conflict. Jerusalem, Tuesday, Reuters