U.S. denies economic threat on Israel

09:36, January 12, 2010      

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The Obama administration on Monday denied that it would withhold loan guarantees to Israel if the Netanyahu-led government fails to advance the peace process, reiterating its commitment to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

In an interview with PBS TV on Wednesday, U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell said that under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees if Israel fails to make sufficient concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians.

The remark was responded angrily by the Israelis. Foreign Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel doesn't need the loan guarantees.

At the daily press briefing on Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters what Mitchell mentioned in the interview just was "a step that the United States has taken in the past."

"He wasn't signaling that this is something that we're forecasting in the future, but it obviously is something that we have in our toolbox. It's not that we're out here, wielding that particular tool at this particular time," said the spokesman.

"The reason why Senator Mitchell is in the region, or in Europe this week, is expressly to continue to push the parties and all who are supporting this process to get the negotiation restarted as quickly as possible, where we can put all the issues on the table and see if we can, you know, move toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," said Crowley.

On Monday, U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones is traveling to the Middle East.

He will meet with key leaders of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to discuss the "full range of regional challenges and opportunities at this critical time in the Middle East," said a White House statement.

Jones' Mideast tour came as the Obama administration has been trying to implement dual-track diplomacy in the region - resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and putting sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambition.

Diplomats of the Quartet, namely the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss a new U.S. plan to resume the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Meanwhile, representatives from the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) are to meet in New York at the end of this week on additional sanctions against the Iranian government.

Source: Xinhua
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