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Hillary Clinton seeks pressure for Mideast peace

(Xinhua)

09:47, September 29, 2011

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday sought pressure from Egypt and the key international mediators on Israel and the Palestinians to restart negotiations toward the resolution of their outstanding issues.

"Egypt, the United States, the Quartet, everyone must stand prepared to put pressure on both sides to try to move toward a settlement of the outstanding issues," Clinton said at a news conference with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr at the State Department.

The Quartet, comprising the U.S., the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, proposed last Friday that the parties resume talks within one month, present comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, make substantial progress within six months, and complete negotiations by the end of 2012.

The proposal came right after the Palestinians, frustrated that almost 20 years of efforts have failed to achieve peace with Israel and an independent Palestinian state, turned to the UN Security Council for full UN membership.

The U.S. has threatened to veto such a move, saying the only path to statehood lies in direct talks with Israel for settlement of core issues like borders, security, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

"If there were an agreement on borders, then there would be no more controversy about settlements, because everybody would know what side of the border is for Palestine and what side is for Israel," Clinton said.

"I think there is no shortcut to this. We have to urge the parties to put aside their reluctance or their distrust," she added.

The Palestinians walked out of talks in October last year only weeks after resuming negotiations with Israel, as Israel refused to extend a ban on settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians condition a resumption of talks on Israel's settlement freeze, while the Israeli government on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for construction of 1,100 new homes in East Jerusalem, prompting condemnations from the U.S., EU and the Palestinians.

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