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Mideast talks could resume soon: Minister

26 July 2013, 10:14

Jericho - Middle East peace talks could restart on 30 July in Washington, Israel's Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said on Thursday.

"We hope talks will begin next week, possibly on Tuesday, but this hasn't been decided 100%," he told a news conference in the West Bank city of Jericho at the inauguration of an industrial park.

"If there's no change at the last minute... I think there's a good chance talks can resume next week in Washington," he said.

Separately quoted by public radio, Shalom said he did not imagine a "scenario where the Palestinians refuse to restart talks. That would be an affront to US Secretary of State John Kerry".

Palestinian presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina said his side was still awaiting a formal invitation from the US.

"We are ready to go to Washington and are committed to what was agreed on with Secretary Kerry," he told AFP.

Cautious optimism

"We are waiting for the invitation for our delegation to go to Washington."

Kerry announced last week that Israel and the Palestinians would begin negotiating in Washington, after a three-year halt in direct peace talks.

On Monday, the White House said that preliminary talks between Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat and his counterpart, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, could begin in the next few weeks.

It expressed "cautious optimism" over the chances of their success.

Israeli public radio, meanwhile, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to "urgently" ask his government on Sunday to approve a draft bill that would require a referendum on a future peace deal with the Palestinians.



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