Obama envoy to Arabs: Take 'meaningful steps' toward peace
George Mitchell quoted by AFP as saying in Cairo that 2002 Arab peace initiative is important proposal.
United States President Barack Obama's envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, urged Arab states on Thursday to take "meaningful steps and important actions" to make peace with Israel, AFP reported.
Mitchell reportedly made the comments in Cairo, where he arrived after a visit to Israel and the West Bank, reiterating Washington's position that the establishment of a Palestinian state was the only viable solution to the Middle East conflict.
"We are working hard to achieve our objective, a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel," Mitchell was quoted as telling reporters after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit.
This includes "peace between Israel and its other immediate neighbors and full normalization of relations between Israel and all of the Arab nations as contemplated by the Arab peace initiative," he said, according to the French news agency.
The 2002 initiative offers Israel full normalization in return for territorial concessions, a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem and a Palestinian state.
Jordan's King Abdullah urged Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday to build on the momentum generated by Obama's peace drive to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"The U.S. President's stances are creating a positive environment that needs to be built on by all the parties to reach a comprehensive and permanent solution to the conflict," a palace statement quoted the monarch telling George Mitchell, Obama's special envoy to the Middle East.
"The U.S. role is crucial in the efforts to reach peace and attain stability in the region," he told Mitchell, adding that Obama's address on June 4 to the Muslim world from Cairo "embodied important messages," including the endorsement of a two-state solution.
"The setting up of an independent Palestinian state based on a two-state solution is the only path to attaining peace and stability in the region," the monarch was quoted as saying.
King Abdullah also told Mitchell that Israel must end settlement building and stop confiscating Arab property in East Jerusalem, seen as the future capital of a Palestinian state, and end efforts to annex lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Mitchell was further quoted as adding: "As President [Barack] Obama said here in Cairo just last week, the Arab states have an important role to play... We regard the Arab peace initiative as an important proposal that we are trying to integrate into our effort.
"Proposing the initiative was just the beginning. It brings with it responsibilities to join in taking meaningful steps and important actions that will help us move towards our objective."
After a Meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, Mitchell said the U.S. hoped negotiations on a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would begin immediately, leading to an "early conclusion" of talks.