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PLO, Israel to meet for fourth round of talks

Jan. 15, 2012 9:47 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2012 5:56 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian and Israeli officials have agreed to meet for the fourth time on Jan. 25, after the latest round of talks between the two sides.

Israeli and PLO envoys met on Saturday for the third round of face-to-face meetings this year in the Jordanian capital. Neither side made official statements following the meeting between PLO member Saeb Erekat and Israel's chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho.

The Palestinian Authority's official news agency Wafa said, however, that Erekat and Molcho had agreed to a fourth meeting on Jan. 25 in Amman.

Jordan's foreign minister Nasser Judeh also attended the meeting.

The exploratory discussions began on Jan. 3 and followed a long break in negotiations after President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks 15 months ago over Israel's expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The "Quartet" of international peace mediators - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations wants the two sides to state their positions on the borders and security arrangements of a future "two-state solution" by Jan. 26 to help open the door to a resumption of full negotiations.

US officials have signaled that the Jan. 26 target date for the two sides to exchange proposals could slide.

The PLO entered the closed-door talks despite opposition from factions, who point to the failure of decades of negotiations with Israel alongside the expansion of illegal settlements.
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