Clinton, Mubarak confer ahead of talks

Hosni Mubarak is set to meet with President Obama today. Hosni Mubarak is set to meet with President Obama today.
Associated Press / August 18, 2009

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WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is hopeful that groundwork can be laid soon to allow the resumption of stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the State Department said yesterday.

“We’re trying to work hard to create conditions for negotiation to continue and we hope to have this phase of this process completed in the next few weeks,’’ spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters, a day before President Obama and Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, are to meet at the White House.

Crowley spoke after an hourlong meeting between Mubarak and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He said Egypt and the United States agreed that all sides - Israel, the Palestinians, and Arab states - need to take “parallel steps’’ to set the stage for a return to negotiations.

Those include a halt to settlement activity by Israel, Palestinian moves to improve security, and gestures by Arab nations toward normalization of relations with Israel.

Only Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel. Arab states without relations with Israel have rebuffed US appeals to take certain steps toward normalizing ties until Israel makes the first move.