JERUSALEM – US special envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday kicked off his first peace mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories since right-leaning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office.
Mitchell met with Defence Minister Ehud Barak at his Jerusalem residence shortly after flying in to the Jewish state, the ministry said.
He was to follow up the mission on Thursday by holding talks with President Shimon Peres, then Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Barak, followed by a working dinner with Netanyahu.
On Friday, Mitchell is to visit the West Bank town of Ramallah to meet with Palestinian officials before travelling on to Egypt.
Mitchell said after talks with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi-Fihri in Rabat this week that President Barack Obama's administration backed a two-state solution, something endorsed by his predecessor George W. Bush.
"In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict," said Mitchell.
The US senator, who is Obama's special envoy for Middle East peace, said he would push that objective during his two-week visit to the region, which also includes meetings with officials from Gulf states as well as North Africa.
In contrast, the Netanyahu government, sworn in on March 31, has opposed a two-state solution while underlining its commitment to peace talks with the Palestinians.
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