Friday: Mideast Peace Talks to Resume on Sept. 2

BY Tom LeGro  August 20, 2010 at 12:32 PM EDT

Updated 12:00p.m. EST
Secretary of State Clinton and special Mideast envoy George Mitchell announced details on the upcoming Israeli-Palestinain peace talks as expected Friday morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will resume direct talks in Washington on Sept. 2. The leaders have individual meetings with President Obama on Sept. 1, followed by a dinner.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Mideast “Quartet” representative Tony Blair have also been invited to take part in the meetings.

“There have been difficulties in the past, there will be difficulties ahead. .. I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region,” Clinton said in a statement.

NPR’s Corey Flintoff has more on the story here.

Posted 9:30a.m. EST
The Obama administration said Thursday it is close to securing an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks. An announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could be imminent, according to several news sources.

The New York Times reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, have agreed to place a one-year time limit on the talks.

Reuters reported Thursday that the draft invitation had been discussed by the so-called Quartet of powers in Middle East peace-making: the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reports:

“Multiple diplomatic sources confirmed that the substance of the reported draft represents a compromise intended to accommodate the Palestinians’ calls for the pending Quartet statement to include several specific items that they believe are “terms of reference” for the direct talks but which the Israeli side sees as “preconditions” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to reject.”

Report: U.S. Tells Israel Threat from Iran Is Not Imminent

The Obama administration has persuaded Israel that it would take at least a year for Iran to complete a “dash” for a nuclear weapon, reports the New York Times. Officials said they believe the assessment has dimmed the prospect that Israel would pre-emptively strike Iran.

The Atlantic is hosting a “debate on The Atlantic’s September 2010 cover story,” in which reporter Jeffrey Goldberg says there is a consensus that Israel will likely strike Iran by July 2011. Eight experts on the Middle East were invited to discuss the issues raised in Goldberg’s story.

The NewsHour’s Michael Mosettig wrote more about the article here.

Report: Karzai Won Release of Aide Under Investigation

The Washington Post reports that a close adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, arrested last month on charges of soliciting a bribe, “was also under investigation for allegedly providing luxury vehicles and cash to presidential allies and over telephone contacts with Taliban insurgents.”

Afghan officials also told the Post that Karzai intervened to win the quick release of the aide, Mohammad Zia Salehi, even after the arrest had been personally approved by the country’s attorney general.

More Aid Coming to Pakistan

Following appeals at an emergency meeting Thursday of the United Nations General Assembly, donors have pledged more money for flood-stricken Pakistan. The United States, already the biggest donor, announced it would contribute another $60 million, bringing its total to more than $150 million.