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Israel, Palestinian leaders to Cairo as talks efforts mount

The Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepared to hold separate meetings with the Egyptian president in Cairo, to be joined by the US Middle East peace envoy as he pressed his quest to get the two men to relaunch direct talks.



Cairo: The Israeli and Palestinian leaders
prepared to hold separate meetings with the Egyptian president
in Cairo today, to be joined by the US Middle East peace envoy
as he pressed his quest to get the two men to relaunch direct
talks.

No direct encounter between Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was
foreseen, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak`s office stressed,
despite months of efforts by US envoy George Mitchell to end
an 18-month hiatus in face-to-face negotiations.

Mitchell, who arrived in Cairo after meeting Netanyahu in
Jerusalem this morning, was due to meet Foreign Minister Ahmed
Abul Gheit.

Abbas met both Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa
and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Saturday
evening, the official MENA news agency reported.

After a meeting between the US envoy and Abbas in the
West Bank town of Ramallah yesterday, the Palestinian
leadership renewed its conditions for a resumption of direct
negotiations, broken off after Israel launched a
devastating offensive against the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

Senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo called for
greater clarity from Washington about its position on new
negotiations, insisting that the Palestinians wanted to
address the core issues of the Middle East conflict.

"Until now there is no clarity in the (US) position on a
number of issues, especially those related to moving into
final status talks," Abed Rabbo told reporters.

"The three-hour meeting between Abbas and Mitchell was
important but there are several issues, most important among
them the settlements and the situation in Jerusalem, that need
more clarity," Abed Rabbo said.

The Palestinians have long demanded a complete freeze on
Israeli settlement expansion ahead of direct talks and have
accused Israel of undermining the process by approving new
settler homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, which
they want as the capital of their promised state.

As on previous visits, Mitchell himself declined to
discuss the details of his talks, saying only that it was a
"very productive" meeting and that US President Barack Obama
remained committed to a two-state peace deal.

PTI

From Zee News

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