State Dept.: Proximity talks ‘constructive’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The first round of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks were "constructive," the U.S. State Department said.

George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy, left the Middle East on May 20 after completing a round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, spokesman P.J. Crowley said on the same day.

"The talks were constructive and reflected both parties’ commitments to reach an agreement that realizes the goal of two states and a more secure and prosperous future for both peoples," he said, but did not elaborate.

Proximity, or indirect, talks were launched earlier this month under U.S. auspices. Israel had wanted direct talks; the Palestinians resisted any talks until Israel instituted a complete freeze on settlement building.

The Obama administration wants both sides to acknowledge each other’s compromises as a trust-building measure. U.S. officials have called on the Palestinians to acknowledge Netanyahu’s partial settlement freeze and on Israel to recognize Palestinian steps to stem incitement.

Mitchell’s back-and-forth to the region comes amid a flurry of visits: Jeff Feltman, the assistant secretary of state, is in Jordan this week, and Vice President Joe Biden is due in Egypt in the second week of June.

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