U.S. vice president arrives in Israel for regional peace efforts

08:44, March 09, 2010      

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and his wife Dr. Jill Biden gesture upon their arrival at the Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 8, 2010. Biden arrived in Israel Monday afternoon, kicking off a five-day visit to the region aimed at jump-starting the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinian. (Xinhua/Pool-Baz Ratner)

The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel Monday afternoon, kicking off a five-day visit to the region aimed at jump-starting the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Biden, the highest level U.S. official till now visiting the Jewish state, is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chair of the Kadima Party Tzipi Livni before heading to the West Bank as well as Jordan.

He will hold talks in Ramallah on Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and then return to Israel to deliver a speech at Tel Aviv University on the relations between the United States and Israel.

During Biden's visit, it is highly expected that a fresh round of talks, though almost definitely indirect, would be announced getting underway between Israel and the Palestinians, after the negotiation stalls for over a year.

Both Israelis and Palestinians expressed willingness to engage in the indirect talks these days, as U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, who travelled to the region Saturday night, made a shuttle mediation and coordinated the positions of both sides ahead of Biden's arrival.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has long been trying to coax the Israel and the Palestinian side back to peace talks. But so far, its efforts have born little result as the two sides differ over Israel's refusal to implement a full construction freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Iran issue will be another topic high on Biden's agenda, as Biden's office said in a statement last month that the vice president will discuss a full range of bilateral and regional issues during the meetings with Middle East leaders.

Source: Xinhua
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