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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told visiting U.S. envoy
George Mitchell he hopes peace talks with the Palestinians will
re-launch as soon as possible. Mitchell is in Israel preparing the
ground for a visit Saturday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The visit by
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is yet another sign of President
Barack Obama's urgent drive to restart the talks, which have been
stalled since December.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
Friday said he hopes the flurry of visits by high-ranking U.S.
officials will help re-launch the peace negotiations as soon as
Speaking as he headed into a meeting with U.S. envoy
George Mitchell, the Israeli leader brought up the subject of Iran's
nuclear activities which Israel believes are for military purposes.
Mr. Netanyahu expressed appreciation for what he said are U.S. efforts
to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear military capability. He gave a
cautious endorsement of U.S.-backed U.N. plan to handle Iran's enriched
"I think that the proposal that the President made in
Geneva to have Iran withdraw its enriched uranium, or a good portion of
it, outside Iran is a positive first step in that direction and I
support and appreciate the President's ongoing efforts to unite the
international community to address the challenge of Iran's attempts to
become a nuclear military power," said Mr. Netanyahu.
Clinton is due in Israel for talks with Israeli leaders on Saturday.
She is earlier scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas in Abu Dhabi.
U.S. mediators face huge gaps as they try
to broker a return to talks, with neither side showing signs of a
willingness to compromise.
The Palestinians insist they will
not go back to negotiations until Israel freezes all construction on
Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel says it wants
negotiations without preconditions and has offered only a partial
freeze on construction.
The visits by U.S. officials have been
preceded by clashes over the last few weeks between Israeli police and
Palestinians, as well as deepening divisions among Palestinian