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Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to meet

JERUSALEM – Israel and the Palestinians said Sunday that their chief peace negotiators would attend a gathering of international diplomats in neighboring Jordan this week, bringing the sides together for the first time in more than a year.

Officials stressed that the meeting would not be a formal negotiating session. Nonetheless, it could mark an important step toward restarting peace talks, which broke down in September 2010.

“The upcoming meeting is part of serious and continuous efforts to reach a common ground to resume the direct negotiations,” said Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Kayed.

He said Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, would host the meeting of Israeli and Palestinian representatives with teams from the international Quartet of Mideast mediators.

The Quartet, consisting of the U.S., European Union, Russia and the United Nations, has repeatedly tried to restart negotiations with the goal of forging a final peace agreement this year.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed the move. “We are hopeful that this direct exchange can help move us forward on the pathway proposed by the Quartet,” she said in a statement. “The status quo is not sustainable and the parties must act boldly to advance the cause of peace.”

Judeh is expected to hold a separate meeting with the Israelis and Palestinians, Kayed said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said his chief envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, would attend, while the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said he would go.

The meeting comes about six weeks after Jordanian King Abdullah II made a rare visit to the West Bank for talks with the Palestinians.


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