US Mideast envoy to return to region this month

February 4th, 2009 - 2:56 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 4 (DPA) The US’ new Middle East envoy George Mitchell met Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday after returning from his first visit to the region, but won’t stay away long as he plans another trip by the end of the month.Mitchell is to return to the Middle East before the end of February, Clinton said, calling his recent trip “the first of what will be an ongoing high level of engagement by Senator Mitchell on behalf of myself and the president”.

Clinton and Mitchell discussed his visit that included meetings with leaders in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France and Britain. His focus was primarily on forging a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“I’m convinced, after a week there, that my original assessment that with patient, determined and persevering diplomacy, we can help to make a difference and that we can assist those in the region achieve the peace and stability that people on all sides long for,” Mitchell said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Clinton reiterated the US position that Hamas must stop rocket fire into Israel in order for there to be a lasting agreement.

“It is very difficult to ask any nation to do anything other than defend itself in the wake of that kind of consistent attack,” Clinton said.

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