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Mideast negotiations difficult, not impossible: US envoy

world Updated: Apr 24, 2010 07:51 IST
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US envoy for the Middle East Senator George Mitchell said on Friday that Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are facing many difficulties, but stressed that he is determined to continue efforts for peace.

Mitchell's surprise arrival in the region, aimed at getting proximity talks going again, began in Israel and ended with his arrival in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We know that there has been much skepticism and many difficulties, and there will be many difficulties to come," said Mitchell.

But he said the US was "determined and persevered until we reach our common goal."

"Comprehensive peace in this region must not be just a dream. It must be and it can be a reality. We want to make this reality soon, not in a distant future."

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat had earlier said that the Palestinians will not agree to resume talks with Israel before the latter halts its settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem.

He said he expected Mitchell to brief him on Israel's position regarding settlements. Erekat planned to discuss Mitchell's efforts with the Arab League's follow-up committee before they give their answer regarding the start of the talks.

The talks were supposed to start more than a month ago. However, Israeli persistence to build settlements in the Palestinian territories delayed their start.

Mitchell said the US wants to see a "viable, independent Palestinian state with contingent territory, in which the Palestinian people can exercise their right of self-determination."