The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has returned to the region to push Israel and the Palestinians to start direct peace talks, the State Department said on Monday, Xinhua reported.
"We expect Senator Mitchell to have discussion with both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow. He will be talking to both parties tomorrow to continue our effort to launch direct negotiations as soon as possible," said department spokesman Philip Crowley.
"We think that what he needs to accomplish can be done with rather quick meetings with both of the leaders," said Crowley, adding Mitchell will basically see if both sides are ready to make the commitment to begin direct negotiations.
But he fell short of confirming if there would be an announcement of the resumption of the peace talks after these meetings.
The Palestinians have been under American pressure to enter direct peace talks with Israel after several rounds of U.S.- brokered indirect talks that started in May and have yielded no tangible results so far.
An Arab League peace committee recently endorsed an American plea to start direct discussions between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but left it up to the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to decide when the time is right.
However, Abbas said he will not jump to direct talks, which halted in 2008, until Israel freezes settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.