Israel and Palestinians resume suspended peace talks

17/03/2008 - 14:22

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held secret talks after a deadly Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip led to their brief suspension and will meet again on Monday, Israeli officials said.

The negotiations, led by Israeli Foreign Minister TzipiLivni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurie, haveshown little sign of progress since they were launched at apeace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November.

"There will be a meeting today between the foreign minister... who heads the negotiating team in order to continue thenegotiations with the Palestinian side led by Abu Ala (Qurie),"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a news conference withGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem.

"We have not stopped, we are not stopping and we will notgive up," Olmert said.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity,said Livni and Qurie met secretly about 10 days ago but thatsession was not publicly disclosed.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat declined to comment.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas temporarily suspendedthe negotiations earlier this month after an Israeli offensivein the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip killed more than 120Palestinians, many of them civilians.

Israel said the incursion was meant to counter cross-borderrocket fire by militants.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Writing by Adam Entous;Editing by Peter Millership)

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