U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. special envoy George Mitchell are wrapping up a visit to the Middle East for a second round of peace talks this week.
Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, and was scheduled to meet one-on-one with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday. Meetings will continue through Friday, with U.S. officials scheduled to meet with Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese leaders.
Abbas and Netanyahu finished their second-round of face-to-face peace talks on Wednesday. During a briefing following the meetings, Mitchell said "they are tackling upfront" the "core issues and key challenges to this process." As The Associated Press reports, the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank continues to be a central issue of the process, with Palestinian leaders threatening to end discussions unless Israel extends a moratorium on new building in the area.
While Mitchell said there was no clear "breakthrough" in talks between Israelis and Palestinians this week, he said the leaders had committed to continuing the process. "The two parties agreed that their negotiators will continue these discussions next week to lay out the groundwork for the next round of talks on the leadership level," he said.