US Obama, Palestine's Abbas hold telephone talks: White House
President Barack Obama held a telephone conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas discussing Palestinian-Israeli settlement among other issues, the White House said in a statement.
"The President noted the positive momentum generated by the recent improvements on the ground in Gaza and in the West Bank, the restraint shown by both sides in recent months, and progress in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks," the statement said.
Israeli-Palestinian direct peace talks came to a halt in December 2008, when Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip in a bid to put an end to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian militants based in the enclave. The conflict left 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
Palestinians have so far cited ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as a main obstacle to the peace process.
"He [Obama] and President Abbas reviewed ways to advance to direct talks in the near term, in order to reach an agreement that ends the conflict, and establishes an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel," the statement added.
Obama also told Abbas that U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, who mediated the last four rounds of the proximity talks between Israel and Palestine, would travel to the region again in the near future and meet with the PNA leader.