Obama envoy Dennis Ross in Israel for talks

AFP, Wednesday 15 Dec 2010

Senior White House adviser Dennis Ross was on Wednesday holding talks in Israel with top defence officials in connection with US attempts to revive the peace process, an Israeli newspaper said.

Top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper said Ross arrived late on Tuesday for two days of meetings which would include talks with outgoing Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

He was also expected to meet with Yuval Diskin, who heads the Shin Bet security service as well as other top intelligence officials, the paper said.

The US embassy refused to confirm or deny the report that Ross was in Israel, while the military declined to confirm details of Ashkenazi's schedule.

The secret visit appeared to be aimed at establishing some idea of what Israel's security needs would be in any final status agreement with the Palestinians.
"In the course of his meetings the two sides are going to try to establish what Jerusalem's red lines are and to discuss long-term security arrangements that Israel would like to have with the United States and which would be ancillary to any future peace agreement," the report said.

The visit overlaps with a separate visit by Washington's Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who has spent the past two days meeting top Israeli and Palestinian officials with the aim of starting indirect talks a week after face-to-face negotiations collapsed.

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