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Clinton Nudges Netanyahu on Mideast Peace Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in her latest a bid to get Israel to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

The State Department says Clinton phoned Mr. Netanyahu, as well as her counterparts in Jordan and Egypt late Thursday.

Clinton's efforts follow a trip to the region this week by U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who failed to get both sides to overcome the final obstacles to direct negotiations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will not engage in direct talks until an agreement is made on an agenda and timeline for negotiations. Israeli media report Mr. Netanyahu told Mitchell this week he wants no preconditions for talks.

But the French news agency, AFP, reported Friday that EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, in a letter to EU ministers said President Abbas may relent and agree to direct talks as early as next week.

The Obama administration has been pushing for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks to resume early next month. Direct talks between Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu's predecessor, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, broke off in December 2008.

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