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Mitchell: Israeli-Palestinian talks in near future

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — George Mitchell said he hoped Israelis and Palestinians would begin meaningful and productive negotiations in the near future.

"We believe we are making progress in these efforts, and we hope very much to conclude this phase of the discussions and to be able to move into meaningful and productive negotiations in the near future," said the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, speaking in Italy after a meeting of the Quartet group for Middle East peacemaking — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Reuters reported that the Quartet was expected to call for a halt to all Israeli settlement construction in a statement Friday. The foreign minister of the Group of Eight nations made a similar call on Friday.

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