Netanyahu says still gaps with U.S. on peace moves
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday there were still gaps to bridge in talks with a visiting U.S. envoy seeking a settlement freeze and the revival of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Reuters reported.
"There is still work to be done. Progress has been made on some issues and there are certain things in which we have yet to make progress," Netanyahu, due to meet envoy George Mitchell on Monday, told reporters.
"I hope we will be able to narrow the gaps and perhaps to bridge them so that we can move forward in the diplomatic process," Netanyahu said, without elaborating.
Mitchell, who arrived in Israel late on Saturday, planned to meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and President Shimon Peres later on Sunday and see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday.
Israeli leaders have been looking for evidence from Mitchell of progress in Washington's efforts to persuade Arab countries to take initial steps towards normalising relations with Israel as part of any settlement deal.
Netanyahu was to travel to Cairo later in the day for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak likely to focus on the settlement issue.
They were also expected to discuss Egypt's efforts to broker a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas that would include the release of an Israeli soldier held by militants in the Gaza Strip since 2006.
A deal on halting building in settlements in the occupied West Bank could pave the way for a meeting involving Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama and Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York around Sept. 23.
Abbas has said he would not restart peace talks with Israel, suspended since December, unless it committed to a settlement freeze as stipulated by a 2003 "road map" that charts a course towards Palestinian statehood.