After 24 hours priming the press, the Obama Administration --- through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy George Mitchell --- has formally invited the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to Washington on 2 September on direct talks.
Clinton, addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, stated, "There have been difficulties in the past, there will be difficulties ahead....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."
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Netanyahu has already welcomed the invitation.
Clinton said Obama will have bilateral meetings with Netanyahu, Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah on 1 September 1 before a dinner with all of them. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East Quartet (US, UN, European Union, Russia), will also be present at the launch.
The US Government has not mentioned any preconditions on the talks, such as a continued moratorium on expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and a halt to construction in East Jerusalem. Hamas and the political leadership in Gaza have not been invited to the discussions.