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Sides in Mideast talks hope stalemate can be broken

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials are hopeful they can break an impasse that has threatened to kill new U.S.-brokered Mideast peace talks before they really begin.

A U.S. official close to the negotiations said Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems likely to cut a deal to keep the talks going. Palestinian officials said much the same, and Israeli officials said Netanyahu does not want talks to founder.

All spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are closed and no decisions have been made. All the parties have previously said they want to continue negotiations, but the talks remain in limbo.

Without a compromise over the issue of Israeli settlement-building on disputed ground, the peace negotiations so strenuously sought by the Obama administration seem headed for collapse.

The White House is working furiously, applying pressure, floating proposals and making promises to both sides, before a Friday gathering of Arab leaders whose backing the Palestinians need in order to go forward.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Wednesday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who represents the "Quartet" of international Mideast peacemakers, to try to find a solution. On Tuesday she spoke with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.


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