Negotiations began last fall at a U.S.-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Md., have been inconclusive and the Bush administration has conceded the original goal of reaching an agreement by the end of 2008 likely won't be met, The New York Times said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed during a meeting in Egypt representatives of the negotiation's quartet, which includes the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. Abbas said he and the Israelis would meet until the Israeli elections Feb. 10 conclude and the new U.S. administration was installed, the Times reported.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the group's special envoy, said the "single most important thing is that the new administration in the United States grips this issue from Day 1."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the parties to the talks "shared their assessment that the present negotiations are substantial and promising."
The entities' representatives -- including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner; and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner -- also promised to respect the Israeli and Palestinian principle of not drawing a partial agreement on a two-state solution.
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