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U.S. Envoy Meets Netanyahu In Bid To Save Talks

U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell (left) with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on September 29.
U.S. envoy George Mitchell says that Washington is "determined more than ever" to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Mitchell spoke during talks in Israel with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu aimed at salvaging the current peace drive.

Mitchell said U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked him to deliver a message to Israelis and Palestinians assuring them of their commitment to achieving comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

EU foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton meanwhile said in Washington that she would depart for the Middle East and would hold talks there with both Mitchell and Netanyahu.

Peace talks that began on September 2 were plunged into crisis after a 10-month moratorium on new housing construction in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank expired on at midnight on September 26.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has threatened to quit the negotiations unless the measure is extended but has put off a decision until an Arab League forum discusses the issue on October 4.

compiled from agency reports