Netanyahu and Abbas Open Mideast Peace Talks

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally reopened direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on Thursday, acknowledging that “we’ve been here before, and we know how difficult the road ahead will be,” but expressing confidence that the core disputes separating the two sides can be resolved within a year.

“I fervently believe that the two men sitting on either side of me, that you are the leaders who can make this long-cherished dream a reality,” Mrs. Clinton said to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

Mrs. Clinton said the United States would be an “active and sustained partner” during the negotiations and echoed President Obama’s declaration that an agreement was in the American national security interest.

The Israeli and Palestinian delegations sat across from each other beneath the twinkling chandeliers of the Benjamin Franklin room in the State Department. After remarks by the leaders, they went behind closed doors to begin hashing out the familiar, but until now intractable, issues of how to carve a Palestinian state out of Israeli-occupied territory in the West Bank.

The meeting was expected to run about three hours, after which the administration’s special envoy to the region, George J. Mitchell, will brief reporters about the outcome. A crucial early indicator of success is if the two sides agree to a second meeting. American officials said they were optimistic that they would meet again, possibly on Sept. 15 in Egypt.  Read the entire story at nytimes.com

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