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August 1, 09

NEWS / Special Envoy Mitchell Cites Progress in U.S.-Israel Talks

Washington — The United States and Israel reported progress in talks on the Middle East peace process July 28 after a meeting between U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We have made good progress,” Mitchell told reporters in Jerusalem following a two-hour meeting with Netanyahu.

The Israeli prime minister said, “I think we’re making progress toward achieving an understanding that would enable us to continue and in fact complete a peace process that would be established between us and our Palestinian neighbors and ultimately the entire region.”

Mitchell said Israel and the United States remain “friends and allies,” according to news reports.

On July 27, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Israeli officials and stressed that the United States is actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to curb its plans for a nuclear weapons development program.

Mitchell said he anticipated further talks with Netanyahu and more work toward a comprehensive peace actively sought by President Obama, but no date has been set for their next meeting.

Mitchell has met with senior leaders in Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain and the Palestinian Territories since he began his most recent swing across the region last week.

On July 27, after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Mitchell told reporters that he was doing everything possible to achieve a complete peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, between Syria and Israel, and between Israel and Lebanon. He is also seeking the eventual normalization of relations between Israel and all of the nations in the region.

President Obama wants “an early return to meaningful negotiations and a prompt resolution of those negotiations … and that means that everyone must take steps, some of them difficult, some of them controversial, to create the context” for peace, Mitchell told reporters after his meeting in Ramallah on the West Bank.



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