US renewing push for Mideast peace (UPDATE)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday the United States will intensify efforts to revive the Middle East peace process and push the Israelis and Palestinians to resume negotiations "without preconditions", dpa reported.
"This is a year of renewed commitment and increased effort, toward what we see as an imperative goal for the region and the world," Clinton said.
Clinton's remarks came after a meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, one of a series of planned US meetings designed to explore ways to get the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table.
Clinton met with her Qatari counterpart on Monday and met later Friday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence chief Omar Mahmoud Suleiman.
"We are coming to try to regenerate enough energy and to create enough momentum for a peace effort," Gheit said.
The US envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell, heads to Europe this weekend for meetings with United Nations, European Union and Russian officials, and later this month to Israel and the West Bank, as the Obama administration, one year into office, has been unable to get both sides to begin negotiations.
"We are working with the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and the Arab states to take the steps needed to relaunch negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions," Clinton said.
Clinton also raised US concerns about Israel's plans to build additional settlements in East Jerusalem, a key sticking point for the Palestinians, who claim it as their future capital.
"Both the United States and Jordan are concerned about recent activities in Jerusalem," she said.
Judeh called for resuming the peace process and also setting a timeline and a clear plan for making progress, arguing that it continues to be a source of regional and global instability.
"There is a growing sense of urgency to move forward in the talks and to achieve tangible progress that will create a more enabling political environment," Judeh said.