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Mitchell, Netanyahu report 'good progress' in Mideast talks

All sides have promised to meet again. Israeli settlements and a belligerent Iran remain the biggest stumbling blocks.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (l.) shakes hands with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell during their meeting in London, Wednesday.

Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Reuters

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President Obama's Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell plans to meet next week in Washington with a delegation of Israeli officials as part of a process that both the US and Israel say is moving closer to the goal of restarting direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

After four hours of talks in London Wednesday, former Senator Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a joint statement that the delegation would meet with Mitchell to continue the conversation. Although the two sides said they had "made good progress" in their talks, they offered no elaboration of what that progress was.

But Mitchell, who has made five trips to the region and other visits to European and other capitals since his appointment in January, has made clear that securing a freeze on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories will be key to restarting the stalled peace talks.

As part of a triangular effort to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the table, Mitchell has also pressed Arab states to commit to measures normalizing relations with Israel and to more vigorous financial support of Palestinians.

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