UN's Ban urges Israel, Palestinians to renew talks
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to immediately resume peace negotiations aimed at securing a separate Palestinian state, Reuters reported.
"We have been wasting too long (a) time on the peace and security in the Middle East," Ban told reporters. "I sincerely hope that, on the basis of a two-state vision, Israel and the Palestinians will immediately begin their negotiations."
Ban urged the two sides to stick to the 2003 Middle East roadmap that calls on Israel to halt settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and for the Palestinians to rein in militants.
U.S. President Barack Obama also wants Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks as soon as possible and has welcomed as positive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conditional endorsement this week of the goal of Palestinian statehood.
But it is unclear when negotiations over core issues will resume. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ruled out resuming the negotiations unless Netanyahu freezes building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Ban said last week that he would attend a meeting of the quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia -- in Italy later this month.
U.N. diplomats have said the quartet meeting would likely take place on the sidelines of a gathering of foreign ministers of the Group of Eight club of wealthy industrial nations, who are scheduled to meet in Trieste June 26-27.