Thursday, August 27, 2009
MIDDLE EASTIsraeli-Palestinian Talks Deemed Likely
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders are likely to hold their first meeting in the coming weeks, both sides indicated Wednesday, in what would be an important step toward a formal resumption of peace talks and a signal achievement for President Obama.
The indications came as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held four hours of talks with Obama's Middle East envoy, former senator George J. Mitchell, in London on Wednesday. Mitchell has been pressing Israel to halt construction of West Bank settlements as a confidence-building gesture toward the Palestinians, and the issue has turned into an unusually public disagreement between the two allies.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, has said he will not resume peace talks until Israel freezes settlements, and he reiterated that position Wednesday. But the Israelis have hinted strongly that Netanyahu could meet Abbas next month at the U.N. General Assembly, and on Wednesday, Palestinian officials in the West Bank said for the first time that a meeting was likely.
Israel and the United States have been suggesting that they are close to an agreement that would allow the resumption of peace talks. But in a joint statement released by the State Department after the meeting between Netanyahu and Mitchell, the two men said only that they had "made good progress" in talks and that they "agreed on the importance of restarting meaningful negotiations."
-- Associated PressKOREAN PENINSULA
Discussion Renewed On Family Reunions
North and South Korean officials on Wednesday held their first talks in nearly two years on arranging reunions of families separated by the Korean War, the latest sign of easing tensions on the peninsula.
The three days of talks at the North's Diamond Mountain resort come as the regime adopts a more conciliatory stance toward South Korea and the United States after months of provocations.
The two delegations remain at odds over the timing of the reunions but are expected to announce an agreement Friday.
-- Associated Press
Taiwan to Host Dalai Lama: Taiwan, which turned away the Dalai Lama last year on fears of upsetting China, has approved a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader next week to comfort typhoon victims, the government said Thursday. Beijing brands the India-based Dalai Lama as a separatist.
Peru Reports Killing Shining Path Rebels: Six people -- two soldiers and at least four guerrillas -- were killed in a shootout Wednesday between Shining Path rebels and Peruvian soldiers trying to win control of South America's largest coca-growing region, Peru's defense minister said.
China to Reduce Use of Executed Prisoners' Organs: China has launched a national organ donation system to try to reduce its dependence on body parts harvested from executed prisoners, who make up the majority of donors, state news media reported.
-- From News Services