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US envoy upbeat on Middle East

Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell said Wednesday that he will pursue substantive talks with Israelis and Palestinians, following a meeting with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.


"In the days ahead our discussions with both sides will be substantive, two-way conversations with an eye towards making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement," Mitchell said.

It is his first trip to the Middle East since the US admitted last week to failing to secure a new Israeli settlement freeze. Mitchell met Israeli and Palestinian leaders separately before heading to Cairo to meet Mubarak and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

“I don’t expect the next phase to produce any results,” says analyst Fawaz Gerges. “I think what we have witness is the end of the so-called peace process. What the Obama administration is trying to do is motions and movements symbolic at most.”

He adds that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has lost credibility at home on the settlement question.

“He’s in real trouble as a result of gambling on the Obama administration to deliver a peace settlement,” says Gerges. “Obama’s administration has lost the battle, the Likud-led government in Israel has won the first and the second round and the Palestinian authority is in real danger as a result of putting all its eggs in the American basket.”

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