Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, announced she would personally lead the talks, to be launched in Washington on September 2. They will follow the biggest Middle East summit for years, attended also by President Barack Obama, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Tony Blair, as representative of the Middle East Quartet of major powers. Over the following months, negotiators will have to set boundaries for a new Palestinian state, decide the status of Jerusalem and the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees, all the while hoping the talks will not be scuppered by resumed Israeli settlement building or militant missile attacks. Mrs Clinton said she and President Obama shared with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, “the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” “There have been difficulties in the past, there will be difficulties ahead,” she said. “Without a doubt, we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and derail these talks. “But I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.” The resumption of direct bilateral negotiations, which were broken off in December 2008 when Israeli forces invaded Gaza, will be considered a foreign policy success for the Obama administration ahead of November’s midterm elections.