Israel, Palestinians Agree To 2nd Round Of Talks

Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed Thursday to produce a framework for a permanent peace deal and to hold a second round of direct talks this month, a modest achievement reached amid deep skepticism about success at their first such session in two years. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet again on Sept. 14 and 15 in the Middle East, likely at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, with an eye toward forging the outline of a pact that could lead to a final agreement in a year's time. The United States' special Mideast envoy George Mitchell announced the agreement after several hours of talks between Netanyahu and Abbas at the State Department at which the two leaders pledged to work through the region's deeply ingrained mutual hostility and suspicion to resolve the long-running conflict. "I believe these two leaders — President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu — are committed to doing what it takes to achieve the right results," Mitchell told reporters. He refused to discuss specifics of what the framework agreement would entail but said it would lay out the "fundamental compromises" needed for a final settlement. Those compromises will involve the thorniest issues that have dogged the parties for decades: the borders of an eventual Palestinian state, the political status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and security. Mitchell said both he and Clinton would be at the next round. Diplomats said it will likely also include other officials from the "Quartet" of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., the U.N., Russia and the European Union. Earlier, Clinton had opened the talks with an appeal for the two leaders to overcome a long history of failed attempts to resolve the conflict and make the difficult compromises needed for peace.