Top Palestinian officials head to Washington

RAMALLAH — Palestinian premier Salam Fayyad and chief negotiator Saeb Erakat were on Thursday flying to Washington to hold talks with top US officials over the crisis in peace talks.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 9 Dec 2010, 3:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:59 AM

Fayyad was to hold talks with Hillary Clinton early on Friday ahead of a conference at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at which the secretary of state was to give a keynote address outlining a new strategy for advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Fayyad was also expected to address delegates at the conference, as was Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who also left for Washington late on Wednesday.

The forum was to take place just days after Washington admitted defeat in its efforts to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement building — the Palestinians’ condition for resuming direct peace talks.

The chief Palestinian negotiator was to arrive in Washington on Thursday for talks with Clinton and other top officials at the State Department, Palestinian officials said.

His Israeli counterpart, Isaac Molho, is already in Washington, Israeli media reports said, with both men expected to meet with US administration officials to discuss the crisis.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas meanwhile was meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after holding talks the night before with Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

With no chance of a new ban on Israeli settlement building, the direct peace talks have effectively collapsed, with US officials admitting the negotiations are likely to return to the indirect format they took earlier this year.

Direct talks had begun on September 2 after a 20-month hiatus, but only lasted for just over three weeks before running into difficulties.

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