Israeli, Palestinian leaders relaunch direct talks in Washington

08:23, September 03, 2010      

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(L to R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Palestinian National Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attend the launching ceremony of the direct negotiation between Palestine and Israel at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. Sept. 2, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday resumed direct talks here after a 20-month hiatus.

The talks are aimed at ending a six-decade conflict between the two sides within a year.

The first round of talks, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was held in the State Department building.

"You each have taken an important step toward freeing your peoples from the shackles of a history we cannot change and moving toward a future of peace and dignity that only you can create," Clinton said at the opening session of the direct talks.

"We understand the suspicion and skepticism" many felt about the process, she said, but the U.S. believed the Palestinian and Israeli leaders could succeed.

Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was in the national interests of the U.S., she said, vowing her country would play the role of "an active and sustained partner in the process."

"We cannot and will not impose a solution. Only you can make the decisions necessary to reach an agreement and secure a peaceful future for the Israeli and Palestinian people," she added.

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