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U.S., Israeli, Palestinian leaders to meet in New York

RIA Novosti

04:13 22/09/2009 TEL AVIV, September 22 (RIA Novosti) -U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet on Tuesday to discuss Middle East peace efforts.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak could also take part in the talks, held within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly. Before the meeting, Obama will hold bilateral talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The White House said on Monday the administration has no "grand expectations" for the informal trilateral summit.

"We have no grand expectations out of one meeting," Haaretz quoted White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as saying.

The issue of Jewish outposts has become the main obstacle to reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, and a sticking point in relations with the United States, Israel's main strategic ally.

Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity, and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have both indicated they would not bend on the settlement issue before the New York meeting.

"You have never heard the prime minister say he would freeze settlement building. The opposite is true," Israeli premier Nir Hefetz told Army Radio.

A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Nabil Abu Rdainah, reiterated that a halt in the settlement construction was among the main conditions for the resumption of full-scale negotiations.

"First, negotiations should focus on the six final status issues without any postponement of any issue. Second, all settlement [activity] must be halted," Haaretz quoted him as saying.


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