Joe Biden sees "moment of real opportunity" for Mideast peace

19:23, 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)


Visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday said a moment of opportunity has come for peace following the newly-announced commencement of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I think we are at a moment of real opportunity. ...The interests of both the Palestinians and the Israeli people, if everyone would just step back and take a deep breath, are actually very much more in line than they are in opposition," Biden said ahead of a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Meanwhile, the veep, the highest-ranking U.S. official setting foot in Israel since U.S. President Barack Obama took office early last year, reaffirmed Washington's commitment to Israel's security, an assurance virtually every visiting U.S. leader has offered.

"There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel's security, our mutual security - none at all," Biden said


Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) shakes hands with visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Jerusalem, March 9, 2010. 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. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)


Biden made the remarks just hours after Obama's special envoy George Mitchell, who has shuttled between Israel and the Palestinian territories during the past days, officially announced that the two Mideast neighbors agreed to enter indirect parley with himself acting as the intermediary.

The development ended a 15-month deadlock since negotiations broke down when the Jewish state launched a destructive military offensive against the Gaza Strip in late 2008, which left about 1, 400 Palestinians dead in the coastal enclave along with 13 Israeli fatalities.

Biden is schedule to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials later in the day and with Palestinian leaders on Wednesday, with the peace process being one of their major topics.

Source: Xinhua

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