NEW YORK (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held lengthy talks here Thursday but failed to break an impasse that has stalled Middle East peace negotiations.
After multiple meetings over seven hours, some one-on-one and others with aides, Clinton and Netanyahu said in a joint statement that they had a "a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides" and "agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals."
But there was no sign that the talks, which have been on hold since mid-September in a dispute over Israeli settlement building, might resume soon.
Earlier, as the meeting began, Netanyahu said Israel is "quite serious" about reaching a final peace deal with the Palestinians and hopes to broaden the effort to include other Arab countries.
The Israeli leader said he and Clinton had been consulting by phone "quite intensively" over the last few weeks but had not met face-to-face since an opening round of talks in Jerusalem in September.
The talks broke off shortly after that session, and the Palestinians have insisted they will not resume until Israel halts construction in Jewish settlements.
"We've been talking and will talk today about how to resume them to continue this process to get the historic agreement with peace and security between us and the Palestinians," Netanyahu said.
"I would like to add that we also hope to broaden it to many other Arab countries. So this is our common goal. We're quite serious about doing it and we want to get on with it."
Asked by a reporter whether peace talks would resume soon, Clinton replied, "That's what we're going to be discussing. We're both very committed to it."
On Wednesday, Clinton criticized Israel's proposal to build 1,300 apartments in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to make the capital of their future state. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.
Palestinian objections to the construction of Jewish settlements in Israeli-occupied parts of the West Bank and east Jerusalem have thrown a wrench into peace talks, which had resumed in September after an interruption of nearly two years.
The United States and other countries are helping the Palestinians set up a government for an independent state. On Wednesday, Clinton announced an additional $150 million in aid for the effort.
Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
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