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    Middle East Envoy Seeks Common Ground


    by NTDTelevision

    U.S envoy George Mitchell stepped up the pace of efforts to save Middle East peace talks on Thursday.

    He said he is seeking common ground to avert the collapse of negotiations.

    [George Mitchell, U.S. Middle East Peace Envoy]
    "We are continuing our effort to find common ground between the parties, to enable direct negotiations to continue."

    These comments come after he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Mitchell also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, where he stressed the U.S. commitment to achieving peace in the Middle East.

    A Palestinian official spoke with reporters in Ramallah.

    [Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Chief Negotiator]
    "We're not against direct negotiations. On the contrary, we want to see to it that we reach an end game, end of conflict, a permanent status solution, establish the two-state solution, a state of Palestine in the 1967 borders, to live side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel."

    Abbas has said he will pull out of the talks unless Israel extends a moratorium on new building in West Bank settlements.

    But he confirmed that he would hold off making a decision as to the fate of negotiations pending an Arab League meeting in Cairo next week.