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Netanyahu Says No Preconditions For Direct Peace Talks

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says there should be "no preconditions" to direct peace talks with Palestinians.

But Netanyahu, speaking on ABC television, declined to say whether he will extend a freeze on new Israeli settlements in the West Bank, due to expire in September.

Palestinians have demanded the settlement freeze before renewing direct talks.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who met Netanyahu at the White House on July 6, has urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume face-to-face negotiations before the Israeli settlement freeze expires.

Netanyahu today reiterated that Israel is ready to resume direct talks. But he also said that Israel has to have "very strong security arrangements" so that the areas it vacates "do not turn into Iranian strongholds."

Palestinians broke off direct peace talks with Israel after Israel launched its military offensive in the Gaza Strip in late 2008.

compiled from agency reports