U.S.: Direct talks on track, no deadline

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Obama administration official said direct Israeli-Palestinian talks are on track, but would not set a time frame.

"We are working through the details of what is necessary to get the parties into direct negotiations," P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said Wednesday, referring to the Quartet grouping of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, which guides the Middle East peace process. "We fully expect that we’re going to get there. We just, at this moment, are still working directly and trying to move the parties to that point where they’re prepared to enter into direct negotiations."

Crowley said the Quartet was still considering releasing a statement prior to the talks; Palestinians want such a statement as a means of committing Israel to discussing final-status issues, including borders, Jerusalem and refugees. Israel’s government has resisted such outlines.

"There could very well be a statement," Crowley said. "When that statement occurs, I can’t tell you. I don’t know. We’re not at the point yet where a statement has been agreed to."

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