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Crucial Middle East talks begin tomorrow

world Updated: Sep 01, 2010 11:27 IST

The US will play an active and sustained role in the crucial direct talks on Middle-East peace process tomorrow, with participating leaders arriving here and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holding a first round of talks with some of them.

The key officials, responsible for the talks, hoped that the direct dialogue could be concluded in one year time
frame.

"The United States will play an active and sustained role in the process. That does not mean that the US must be
physically represented in every single meeting.

"We recognize the value of direct, bilateral discussion between the parties and, in fact, will encourage that between
the two leaders on a regular basis," said George Mitchell, the Special US Envoy for the Middle East Peace.

"On the other hand, it does not mean that the US will simply stand aside and not participate actively. We will
operate in a manner that is reasonable and sensible in the circumstances which exist, but the guiding principle will be
an active and sustained United States presence," Mitchell told reporters at a special White House briefing as the leaders
started arriving for the direct talks, which is considered to be crucial to bring peace in the region.

Last week Clinton invited President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington on
September 2 to resume direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues.

"We believe these negotiations can be completed within one year," he said.

Today they will have bilateral meetings with the US President Barack Obama as will President Hosni Mubarak of
Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan.

The four leaders then will join Obama for dinner at the White House to help launch these discussions.

"Egypt and Jordan have a critical role to play, and their continued leadership and commitment to peace will be
essential to success," Mitchell said.

Tomorrow Clinton will convene a meeting at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department between Netanyahu and Abbas and their delegations.

"Since the beginning of this administration, we have worked with the Israelis, the Palestinians and our
international partners to advance the cause of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including two-state solution, which ensures security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians," Mitchell said.

The Special US Envoy hoped to proceed promptly on an intensive basis with the parties.