Today the White House is focused on the re-launch of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians for the first time in nearly two years. As the President has said, we are under no illusions about how difficult and complex a task reaching a peace agreement will be, but we also know that resolving this conflict is in the national security interests of the United States. Re-launching direct talks is an important step along this path.
This morning, the President met bilaterally with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt. In the late afternoon, he spoke to the press to brief them on the day's events, and said that his meetings had been very productive. The President said he urged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to recognize this as a moment of opportunity that must be seized, and that he thanked President Mubarak and King Abdullah for their valuable leadership and for the support that will be necessary going forward.
After his remarks to the media, the President will host President Mubarak, King Abdullah, Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, Quartet representative Tony Blair, and Secretary Clinton for dinner at the White House to build a positive atmosphere for the talks. On Thursday, Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell will host Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas at the State Department for the formal re-launch of direct negotiations.
These talks are just the beginning but they are an important step. We believe the Israelis and Palestinians can reach an agreement within one year, and will be working very hard to achieve that goal.
Prem Kumar is the National Security Council Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs