Israel wants to move to direct talks, says vice premier

09:05, March 09, 2010      

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Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said here on Monday that Israel wants to "move to direct talks" with the Palestinians immediately.

Shalom made the statement to the press here after he met with UN Secretary-genera Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting took place after both the Palestinians and Israelis agreed to have indirect peace talks.

"Israel would like to resume the negotiations directly immediately," he said. "I hope the secretary-general will convince his partner in the Quartet in Moscow to ask the Palestinians to cut and shorten the time needed to move to direct dialogue."

Meanwhile, Shalom said that the Palestinian agreement to the indirect talks was "a positive development."

Earlier on Monday, Ban told reporters that he hopes the upcoming meeting in the Russian capital of the diplomatic group supporting the Middle East peace process will lead to direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Members of the so-called Quartet, comprising the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia, are slated to meet in Moscow on March 19.

The secretary-general, who will attend the meeting, said that the gathering will provide the Quartet with an opportunity "to assess and encourage the earliest possible resumption of the proximity talks which will eventually, I hope, lead to direct negotiations between the parties."

The Roadmap peace plan championed by the Quartet calls for two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

The secretary-general has repeatedly called for the resumption of the Middle East peace process, which has been stalled for many months.

Source: Xinhua
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