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Israeli Leader: Practical Steps Needed for Middle East Peace


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell that both Israel and the Palestinians need to take practical steps to advance peace.

The two met in London Wednesday to discuss Washington's demand that Israel freeze its construction of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In a joint statement, the two men said they had a very productive meeting, and agreed on the importance of restarting "meaningful negotiations" between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinians say they will not rejoin peace talks until the settlement building stops.

Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, suggested Wednesday that the issue could be resolved soon, and that peace talks could begin within weeks.

Israeli and Palestinian officials have said Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could meet next month on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Mr. Netanyahu flew to Berlin later Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also opposes settlement construction.

He told reporters after arriving in Berlin that there are still issues that had not been finalized during the talks with the United States. He said there was progress, but more work needs to be done.

About a half million Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want to build a future state.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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