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Mitchell to meet with Abbas in West Bank

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Mitchell to meet with Abbas in West Bank
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell (L) and Israeli President Shimon Peres meet at the President's residence in Jerusalem on January 28, 2009. Mitchell, President Barack Obama's new Mideast envoy, seeks to boost a 10-day-old cease-fire with Gaza that was broken after a Palestinian bombing killed an Israeli soldier. (UPI Photo/Sebastian Scheiner/Pool) | License Photo

RAMALLAH, West Bank, April 17 (UPI) -- U.S. envoy George Mitchell went to the West Bank Friday to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after meetings with Israel's new leaders.

Mitchell also was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad during his visit in Ramallah, the BBC reported.

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During meeting Thursday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the U.S. Middle East envoy that he would discuss a Palestinian state if the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state. Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, previously said he did not think his country was obligated to a roadmap to reach a two-state solution as outlined during talks in Annapolis, Md.

After meeting with Lieberman, Mitchell said, "U.S. policy favors, with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a two-state solution which will have a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said a preferable course of diplomacy is "two economies for two peoples and not two states for two peoples. The American emissary also knows that forcing the region into virtual diplomatic discourse will only breed the opposite results."

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Lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has said Israel must declare support for a two-state solution for peace talks to resume, the BBC said. The Palestinian Authority has also called for international pressure on Israel to honor its commitment to freeze construction in West Bank settlements.

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