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No Breakthrough in Mideast Talks


US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, left, talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before their meeting at Abbas' residence, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 01 Oct 2010

US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, left, talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before their meeting at Abbas' residence, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 01 Oct 2010

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have wrapped up separate talks with U.S. envoy George Mitchell, with no apparent breakthrough on the key issue of Israeli settlement construction.

After shuttling between the two leaders, Mitchell is set to consult with Arab leaders in Qatar, Egypt and Jordan, ahead of a crucial meeting of Arab League foreign ministers next week.

Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas will not hold direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until the issue of Israeli settlement expansions in the West Bank is resolved. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians hope Israel will choose peace and not settlements.

He commented Friday after Mr. Abbas met with Mitchell. Mr. Abbas earlier said he would decide whether to quit the talks after consulting senior officials at next week's Arab League meeting.

Mitchell held his second meeting with Mr. Abbas Friday, after holding a similar session with Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier in the day. Heading into the meeting, Mr. Netanyahu said his country had a "mission of peace."

After Friday's meetings, Mitchell said "obstacles" remained but there was still determination to reach an agreement.

Israeli news organizations have said the Obama administration offered Israel a list of favors if it agreed to extend the construction moratorium by two months. But the news organizations say Mr. Netanyahu rejected the offer.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also is in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The EU is part of the Middle East Quartet, which also has the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

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

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