US envoy George Mitchell began a new swing through the Mideast on Tuesday by calling for a rapid resumption of peace talks and stressing Washington's commitment to Israel's security, the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported.
"I want to begin by stating again, clearly and emphatically, beyond any doubt, that the United States' commitment to the security of Israel remains unshakable," said Mitchell alongside President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. "We're working hard to achieve our objectives for comprehensive peace in the Middle East, to which you have referred, President, including a Palestinian state side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel," he said.
Mitchell added that the U.S. still consider Israel a close friend and partner, the two countries will remain "allies and friends, and they are working to create conditions for the immediate commencement of negotiations.
At a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mitchell discussed the construction of Jewish settlements, but details of the meeting are not reported.
After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, United States Special Envoy will start talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday.
Mitchell will also meet with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Mitchell will first visit Syria and Lebanon as the U.S. Special Envoy. .