Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 13:23 UK

US seeks immediate Mid-East talks

George Mitchell
George Mitchell is on his way to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan

President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has said that the US wants immediate talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr Mitchell is on his way to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

He was speaking at al donors' conference in Oslo aimed at providing support for the Palestinian Authority.

He said it was important to build up Palestinian institutions so that an independent and viable Palestinian state could soon be in place.

Mr Mitchell has said that President Obama has made clear to his administration that a two-state solution is the only viable one.

The president repeated his call for a two-state solution and a halt to Jewish settlement activity during a visit to Germany and Egypt last week.

Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said recent political uncertainty over the future of a Middle East peace deal had had a negative impact on fund-raising efforts for the Palestinians.

A World Bank report on the Palestinian economy that was released at the donor meeting said foreign support remained "indispensable" for the provision of basic services in the Palestinian territories.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would make a major speech on peace and security issues later this month. He has also said he is ready to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and pursue a three-track peace process focussing on economic, security and political issues.

Mr Abbas has said renewed negotiations would be pointless unless Mr Netanyahu first endorsed the notion of Palestinian statehood and halted the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

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