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Obama, Netanyahu Discuss Mideast Peace Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have discussed how best to achieve a comprehensive peace deal in the Middle East.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the two leaders spoke by phone Monday, as U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell returned to the region.

Gibbs said President Obama and Mr. Netanyahu discussed the need to make full use of the indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and how to move to direct negotiations between the two sides as soon as possible.

Mitchell is in Israel for what the U.S. hopes will be the start of indirect negotiations, after the two sides broke off talks more than a year ago.

He is scheduled to meet with both Israeli officials and Palestinian leaders this week. Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, told VOA Israel is hopeful the proximity talks will quickly lead to direct negotiations.

The Palestinians say direct talks will not happen until Israel stops building in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem. However, they say they have received assurances from the U.S. that all core issues will be discussed this week.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed plans to resume Mideast peace talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The two leaders met in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. A statement from Mr. Netanyahu's office said the meeting took place "in a positive and constructive atmosphere."