Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) proposed taking "mutual confidence-building steps" with Palestinians in a phone call with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of talks between the Mideast Quartet in Moscow.
REUTERS - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed "confidence-building steps" with Palestinians in a telephone call on Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after a dispute over settlements.
A statement from Netanyahu's office also said Clinton had told him that U.S. peace envoy Senator George Mitchell would arrive in Israel on Sunday for new talks on peace moves.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who was in Moscow with Clinton, confirmed the Mitchell visit and said Clinton and Netanyahu had discussed "specific steps" to try to improve the outlook for Israeli-Palestinian peace. He declined to spell out what these were.
Netanyahu's spokesman Nir Chefetz said only that Netanyahu had proposed to Clinton some "mutual confidence-building steps" that both Israel and the Palestinians could take in the West Bank.
Clinton told Netanyahu that Mitchell would arrive before Netanyahu's departure for Washington on Sunday to address a pro-Israel lobby the following day.
Israeli media have said that trip may also include talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Relations between Israel and the United States have been unusually tense this week after Israel announced a plan to build 1,600 housing units near occupied East Jerusalem in the middle of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
Netanyahu won the approval of a forum of seven senior cabinet ministers for his proposals to Clinton, Chefetz said, adding he had also "clarified" Israeli policies to her, presumably about settlements and Jerusalem, a city Israel sees as its capital, though this is not recognised internationally.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, to be capital of a future state that they seek for the occupied West Bank.
The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators were to meet in Moscow on Friday about ways to resume the negotiations, stalled since December 2008.
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