Israeli PM responds to Clinton in settlement row

MOSCOW- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late Thursday amid a dispute over Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem, her spokesman said.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu called the secretary to follow up on their conversation last Friday," Clinton's spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Moscow, where Clinton is attending a meeting of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet.
"They discussed specific actions that might be taken to improve the atmosphere for progress toward peace," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured on 15th March (AFP/Pool/File/Jim Hollander)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured on 15th March (AFP/Pool/File/Jim Hollander)
"We are going to review the prime minister's response," he added without revealing what he had said.
Another US official said on condition of anonymity that the conversation lasted around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu's office confirmed the phone call and said he had suggested "mutual confidence-building measures" that could be carried out by Israel and the Palestinians, but it did not give details.
It also did not reveal if he answered US complaints about Israeli settlements.
In a tense phone call last Friday, Clinton had asked Netanyahu to order a halt to plans for the construction of a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.
Crowley also said that US Middle East envoy George Mitchell will return to the region this weekend to meet with Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Mitchell, who brokered a now uncertain deal for indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians on a previous visit, had delayed his return amid US anger over Israel's plans to build 1,600 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem.
Mitchell, who was initially scheduled to begin his visit last Tuesday, is to join Clinton on Friday for talks involving the Middle East quartet, which is made up of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

Friday, March 19th 2010

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