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Mitchell to return to Middle East as Netanyahu telephones Clinton

Other News Materials 19 March 2010 03:40 (UTC +04:00)
George Mitchell, US special envoy to the Middle East, will return to the region this weekend after postponing a visit last week because of a diplomatic feud over Israel's plans to build new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem
Mitchell to return to Middle East as Netanyahu telephones Clinton

George Mitchell, US special envoy to the Middle East, will return to the region this weekend after postponing a visit last week because of a diplomatic feud over Israel's plans to build new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem, dpa reported.

The announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday to discuss "specific actions that might be taken to improve the atmosphere for progress toward peace," US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said in a statement.

Israel on March 9 announced plans to construct 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, drawing widespread condemnation and endangering US-brokered indirect peace talks with the Palestinians.

The announcement was made while US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the region, timing that Clinton described last week as insulting and which provoked a loud, public spat between the two long-time allies.

Mitchell will meet separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend, though Crowley did not say if the envoy was hoping to restart peace talks between the two sides.

The US was reviewing Netayahu's response to US concerns and would "continue our discussions with both sides to keep proximity talks moving forward," Crowley said.

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