U.S. envoy to meet Israeli, Palestinian leaders this weekend

11:16, March 19, 2010      

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U.S. State Department announced on Thursday George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this weekend.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Prime Minister Netanyahu called Secretary Clinton and they discussed the specific actions that might be taken to improve "the atmosphere for progress toward peace."

"We are going to review the Prime Minister's response and continue our discussion with both sides to keep proximity talks moving forward," Crowley said.

The Israeli announcement to build 1,600 homes in a part of the West Bank it had annexed to Jerusalem angered Palestinians and triggered off the feud with Washington.

Mitchell had postponed a visit to the Middle East for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday.

But U.S. has already started to tone down. During an interview with Fox News earlier this week, Obama reaffirmed U.S. commitment to Israel by saying "Israel's one of our closest allies and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away."

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