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Clinton: Mideast Talks Should Resume Without Preconditions


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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Morocco on the next stop in her diplomatic mission to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Clinton is scheduled to meet with Arab foreign ministers this week in the western city of Marrakech.

She traveled to the northwest African nation Sunday after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday in Jerusalem. There she called on Israelis and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations immediately and without preconditions.

The secretary of state said Israel has offered "unprecedented" limits on Jewish settlement expansion in response to Palestinian concerns about resuming peace talks. And both Clinton and Mr. Netanyahu said that Palestinians had never in the past demanded a settlement freeze as a condition for talks.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, responded to Clinton's comments late on Saturday and said there will be no change in the Palestinian position.

Clinton had met with Mr. Abbas earlier Saturday in Abu Dhabi, where the Palestinian leader called for a total freeze on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank before peace negotiations with Israel can resume.

Clinton's comments on Saturday marked a departure in tone from previous statements demanding a total Israeli settlement freeze, without exception.

In addition to the settlement issue, Israeli and Palestinian officials have yet to agree on the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of a future Palestinian state.

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

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