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Fragile but happy beginning for Mideast peace talks

Friday, September 03, 2010 11:54:55 AM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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Washington: The US brokered Middle East peace talks here have not only led to promises of a second round of negotiations Sep 14-15, but also opened the possibility of a third round later this month, according to media reports.

CNN cited two senior officials close to the talks as saying Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are already discussing a possible third round of talks because both sides are concerned about the impact of Israel's 10-month moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank that expires Sep 26.

The goal is to pick up some momentum coming out of the Sep 14-15 talks, which Obama's Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell announced Thursday in Washington after the first direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials in nearly two years.

While Mitchell did not announce a location for the second round of talks Sep 14, CNN cited officials close to the talks as saying those sessions are likely to be hosted in Egypt by President Hosni Mubarak.

The point of a third round of talks, coming before the Sep 26 moratorium expires, would be to try and prevent a quick and dramatic failure so early in the process if the settlement issue boils over, it said.

Meanwhile, Politico said the launch of new direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders was the result of a rare flexing of US muscle by President Barack Obama, "whose extended hand has left him with fewer opportunities for foreign policy chest thumping than his predecessor had".

The Obama administration was able to force two reluctant adversaries to put tricky domestic politics aside and agree to show up for an unpredictable, unscripted series of meetings every two weeks, it noted.

"And Obama had an opportunity to show on the foreign policy stage the kind of dug-in patience and tenaciousness that to both allies and critics has defined his approach to domestic policy - particularly health care legislation - for the last 18 months."

"Thursday's beginning remains fragile, and all observers cautioned that any way forward will be in stops and starts," Politico said.

"But the two days of meetings with the Israelis, Palestinians, and other key leaders left the White House exultant both at the style and the substance of a small victory a long time in coming."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at




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