Netanyahu: Israel ready to restart talks


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu said he hopes to reduce the gaps between Israel and the United States over resuming peace talks with the Palestinians.

The Israeli prime minister told the Cabinet Sunday at the beginning of the regularly scheduled meeting that Israel was continuing efforts to advance peace.

He made the statement just hours before leaving for Egypt to meet with President Hosni Mubarak to discuss diplomatic and security issues. The meeting at Mubarak’s residence, which was closed to the press, concluded Sunday evening.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Monday with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell in a meeting the Israeli leader said is aimed "to advance the talks and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians."

"There is still work to do," Netanyahu said. "We have made progress on certain items; there are also certain items on which we have yet to make progress. I hope that we will succeed in reducing the gaps. Maybe we will bridge them, so that we can move the process forward. From our point of view, there are no delays to this. It is not we who are placing obstacles against entering into a diplomatic process. From our point of view, this could be done tomorrow, even yesterday."

Mitchell met Sunday with President Shimon Peres, and was scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

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