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Israel Seeks Talks Re-Launch As Palestinians Push UN Bid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to meet with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmud Abbas to relaunch "direct" peace negotiations.

Netanyahu's office said the prime minister wants to meet with Abbas in New York during this week's annual United Nations General Assembly.

The Israeli announcement came as Palestinians said Abbas is preparing to submit on September 23 a formal request for Palestinian membership in the UN.

The potential Palestinian move is opposed by Israel and its ally the United States, who say that only direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can clear the way for the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The United States has threatened to veto any Palestinian bid for UN statehood recognition in the UN Security Council.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said American officials have been engaged in "extremely intensive" talks with all sides, and that she believes there is still time to find a diplomatic solution.

"We are engaged in extremely intensive ongoing diplomacy, reaching out to not only the parties but to all of the people who are here for the UN General Assembly,” Clinton told reporters. “We continue to believe and are pressing the point that the only way to a two-state solution -- which is what we support and want to see happen -- is through negotiations."

President Barack Obama, who has arrived in New York for the UN General Assembly, is expected to discuss the issue in upcoming meetings.

U.S.-backed talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed nearly a year ago when the Palestinians withdrew from the negotiations after Israel did not extend a partial moratorium on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

compiled from agency reports