JERUSALEM, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Wednesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, urging the two sides to move forward with peace negotiations.
Ban, whose visit to the Middle East will include a stop in Jordan, said he is hopeful preparatory talks that began last month in Amman with negotiators from both sides will go on.
"This is a critical moment for Israel and the region," Ban said in remarks during a joint press conference with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.
Ban commended Netanyahu's commitment to a two-state solution.
"I also hope that Israel will be forthcoming with its own concrete proposals on territory and security, as called for by the Quartet [the diplomatic grouping consisting of the U.N., European Union, Russia and the United States], in order to reach agreement on all final status issues before the end of this year. The success of the Amman talks is in the interest of both Israelis and Palestinians," Ban said in a statement prepared for a joint press conference with Netanyahu.
Ban said a viable Palestinian state is long overdue.
"I continue to believe that a two-state solution can be achieved -- and that the way to achieve it is through negotiations that resolve permanent status issues such as borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem," he said in prepared remarks.