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Formal talks to resume between Israelis, Palestinians
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume their formal contacts Wednesday evening in hopes of convening another summit, senior officials on both sides confirmed early Wednesday.
Though officials of the two sides have met on and off informally in the three weeks since the inconclusive Camp David summit, Wednesday's meeting will be the first formal set of negotiations.
Both sides have set September 13 as a deadline for a final peace accord, but the Israelis and Palestinians left last month's summit in a draw over the final status of Jerusalem, the ancient Mideast city sacred to three religions and a central figure in the cultural histories of both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, while Israel -- which captured the majority Arab district in the 1967 war and quickly annexed it -- says the city, which is Israel's seat of government, will remain forever undivided and in Israeli hands.
Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath said that Egypt, the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, was working with the Palestinians to find a Jerusalem formula that would end the stalemate.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah on Wednesday. Jordan has also signed a peace agreement with Israel.
U.S. wants summit
With the September 13 deadline rapidly approaching -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has vowed to declare an independent Palestinian state with or without a peace agreement -- the parties hope to build on the proposals raised at Camp David so that another summit can be convened next month to finalize a deal.
U.S. Mideast envoy Dennis Ross will arrive in the region on Thursday to resume contacts with both sides. Ross said on Tuesday the United States was willing to call a new summit only if the Palestinian and Israeli leaders are ready to make historic concessions.
"President Clinton made it clear he is prepared to get them together again if he is satisfied there's a readiness to make decisions," Ross said Tuesday before his departure.
Each side says the other must move from the positions that stalled the Camp David talks in order to advance the process.
Barak said on Tuesday that the Palestinians must reevaluate their position.
"Time is short and we are in a very delicate period," he said. "I hope there will be a sense of vision, good sense will prevail and the Palestinians will demonstrate the flexibility necessary to enable us to reach an agreement soon."
Mideast peace talks to resume at end of August, says Palestinian official
Palestinian National Authority
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