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U.S. President Barack Obama's point man in the Middle East has little to show for his latest peace mission to the region.
U.S. envoy George Mitchell wound up four days of talks in the Middle East with a final meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Mitchell also met Palestinian and Egyptian leaders during the visit as he tried to find a formula for reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that were suspended 10 months ago.
He spoke in Cairo before returning to Jerusalem.
"We need to re-launch negotiations that can succeed as soon as possible, and that has been the focus of my trip and of my discussions," Mitchell said.
Gaps remain wide on the thorny issue of Jewish settlements. The United States has demanded a complete freeze on settlement expansion; and the Palestinians say Israel's offer of a partial freeze is not enough to resume peace talks. Israel believes negotiations should resume without preconditions.
Mitchell said that despite the obstacles, the United States remains committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
"... which we believe can only be assured by a two-state solution; Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace, with security, stability, and prosperity for the people of both states," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said Israeli and Palestinian officials have been invited to Washington for more talks. It is an uphill climb: The American envoy has made nine visits to the Middle East this year, but the peace process remains deadlocked.