International

Israeli And Palestinian Leaders Reportedly Agree To Direct Talks In Washington

A combo of recent pictures shows Palesti

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, delivering a speech on Aug. 4, 2009, in the West Bank, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking in Jerusalem on June 23, 2010.  Menahem Kahana/Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Menahem Kahana/Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning. Several news organizations, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, report that world leaders — of the U.S., European Union and the United Nations — plan to invite Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Washington, for direct peace negotiations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce the talks later today.

Los Angeles Times:

U.S. and allied officials in recent days said they had persuaded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to join the talks. President Obama would be directly involved in the meetings, officials said.

The New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton has been working the phone in recent days to clear the final hurdles, speaking Thursday with Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, and with Tony Blair, the special representative of the Quartet, the group of Middle East peacemakers comprising the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

— "'Ground Zero mosque': New Yorkers take dim view of rabble-rousing outsiders," The Washington Post

The heated national debate is unrecognizable from the reality in New York, both politically and spatially. For starters, there are the practical questions of whether the Islamic center's politically unconnected organizers have the savvy and know-how to navigate the city's real estate universe or to put together the $100 million they need for their ambitious project. But if they somehow do, the city's entire political establishment supports their right to build on private property.

And no one in New York has any misconceptions about what Lower Manhattan looks like. Red cranes may slowly be rebuilding Ground Zero, but they are surrounded by a vibrant cityscape: doughnut shops and strip clubs and churches and mosques and synagogues and off-track betting parlors and podiatry centers.

— "U.S. Assures Israel That Iran Threat Is Not Imminent," The New York Times

The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran’s nuclear program, has persuadedIsrael that it would take roughly a year — and perhaps longer — for Iran to complete what one senior official called a "dash" for a nuclear weapon, according to American officials.

Administration officials said they believe the assessment has dimmed the prospect that Israel would pre-emptively strike against the country’s nuclear facilities within the next year, as Israeli officials have suggested in thinly veiled threats.

— "Pakistan floods are a 'slow-motion tsunami' - Ban Ki-moon," The Guardian

The United Nations general secretary, Ban Ki-moon, has appealed for swifter aid to provide immediate relief in food, shelter and clean water for the millions affected by the worst monsoon rains on record.

"Make no mistake, this is a global disaster," Ban told a hurriedly convened session of the UN general assembly. "Pakistan is facing a slow-motion tsunami. Its destructive powers will accumulate and grow with time," he warned.

Weather forecasts have said there could be four more weeks of rain, which will add to the flood problems.

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