US envoy Mitchell to meet top EU, French diplomats

WASHINGTON — US Middle East envoy George Mitchell will meet with the top EU and French diplomats this week as part of efforts to reset the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after months of setbacks.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 16 Dec 2010, 9:38 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 6:22 AM

Mitchell will meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels on Thursday before heading to Paris to meet French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the State Department said Wednesday.

The United States is looking to chart a new course after abandoning its quest to get Israel to freeze settlement construction, a key Palestinian demand for face-to-face negotiations.

A Palestinian official in Ramallah said Mitchell had proposed six weeks of “parallel” talks during a meeting with president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday.

But State Department spokesman Philip Crowley declined to confirm the report, saying: “I’ve resisted putting a label on that.”

“We’re waiting in terms of the next step for a reaffirmation of the support of the Arab Follow-up Committee... We’re focused on the substance. That’s the best vehicle to move towards a framework agreement,” he said.

The group of Arab foreign ministers — which had backed Abbas in launching negotiations earlier this year — said it would not endorse further talks unless they were based on a “serious offer” to end the decades-old conflict.

Israel and the Palestinians relaunched direct negotiations in September but the talks collapsed within weeks after the expiration of a 10-month moratorium on Israeli settlement construction.

The Palestinians view the presence of some 500,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank including annexed east Jerusalem as a major threat to the establishment of their promised state and saw US demands for a building freeze as a crucial test of Israel’s intentions.

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