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S P E C I A L Struggle for Peace

Israel, Palestinians agree to resume talks

Albright September 29, 1997
Web posted at: 9:39 p.m. EDT (0139 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Palestinian Authority and Israel have agreed to end a six-month stalemate and resume negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced Monday.

Albright made the announcement after a round of talks with both sides in New York.

She said Monday's meetings put a stop to the "downward spiral" of the peace process.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority will resume talks on October 6, she said. The agenda will cover interim issues, such as safe passage for Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

U.S. envoy Dennis Ross will sit in on the talks, which will take place in the Mideast, said Albright, who described the talks as a "medium step" toward peace in the region.

The next round will be held a week later in Washington.

Those meetings will include talks on broader issues, including security cooperation, redeployment of Israeli troops, and a new push on the thorny issue of accelerating permanent status talks.

The two sides also will discuss Albright's call for a timeout on further construction of Israeli housing on the West Bank.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had been scheduled to appear with Albright at a three-way news conference Monday.

They did not appear.

Palestinian negotiator Abu Mazen was to speak with reporters later Monday. Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy reportedly declined to make a public appearance.

Sources close to the talks said there had been a hot dispute over Israeli settlements and housing on the West Bank. The Palestinians and Americans reportedly came down on the same side of the "timeout" issue.

Albright has called on the Israelis to suspend further settlements in the West Bank.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced further Jewish expansion in the area.

State Department Correspondent Steve Hurst contributed to this report.

rule Struggle For Peace

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