Netanyahu leaves for Washington for direct peace talks relaunch

Netanyahu leaves for Washington for direct peace talks relaunch

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Tuesday for Washington ahead of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks - the first face-to-face negotiations between the sides in more than a year, DPA reported.

The Israeli leader, along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II, will attended a ceremonial dinner hosted by President Barrack Obama on Wednesday night local time.

On Thursday morning he is slated to hold talks with Abbas at the State Department. The formal talks themselves are due to begin Thursday.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak met with King Abdullah in Amman on Sunday, and with Abbas on Monday night, also in the Jordanian capital.

According to the Jerusalem Post daily, Barak and Abbas discussed Israel's easing security restrictions on West Bank Palestinians, as a confidence-building measure ahead of the talks.

The last round of direct peace Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was suspended in late 2008, as Israel entered an election campaign which ultimately brought Netanyahu to power.

Direct negotiations were not renewed after Netanyahu took office, but the sides did begin indirect talks in spring this year.

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