At State Department Today, Direct Middle East Peace Talks Scheduled To Begin : The Two-Way After meetings at the White House, parties involved in Middle East peace talks will spend the day in Foggy Bottom, conducting direct peace talks for the first time in more than 18 months.
NPR logo At State Department Today, Direct Middle East Peace Talks Scheduled To Begin

At State Department Today, Direct Middle East Peace Talks Scheduled To Begin

From left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II walk to East Room of the White House. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Good morning. After a long day of bilateral meetings yesterday, followed by a working dinner at the White House, representative of Israel and the Palestinian Authority plan to get down to work in Foggy Bottom.

— "Netanyahu and Abbas to Begin Direct Mideast Peace Talks," The New York Times:

While the issues are daunting, some analysts also saw a reed of hope in the resolute response of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas to the killing by Hamas gunmen of four Israeli settlers in the West Bank on the eve of the talks. Both men immediately said the attack should not be allowed to derail the negotiations, and the Palestinian Authority condemned the killings.

What's on the table? According to The Times, "the success of the talks, all sides said, will depend in part on whether Mr. Obama can succeed where his predecessors have failed in pushing Palestinians and Israelis toward resolving the core final status issues that have bedeviled peace negotiators since 1979."

Those issues include the dismantling of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the borders of a Palestinian state, the security of Israel, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees who left, or were forced to leave, their homes in Israel.

You can hear NPR's Michele Kelemen's Morning Edition piece on the talks here.

Other stories making headlines:

— "5 a.m. update: Earl strengthens slightly, heads toward N.C. coast," Wilmington StarNews:

As of 5 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Earl was moving toward the north-northwest at 18 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach the North Carolina coast by Thursday afternoon, with hurricane force winds occurring by Thursday night

A turn to the north is expected later today, with a turn to the north-northeast and faster forward speed expected on Friday, the weather service said.

The center of Earl is expected to pass near the Outer Banks Thursday night. Earl remains a Category 4, but a gradual weakening is expected later Thursday, the weather service said.

— "Environmental militant slain at Silver Spring building after taking hostages," The Washington Post:

[James J.] Lee, 43, who once threw money to bystanders as a protest along a Silver Spring street and who believed that the world would be better off without people, was shot by police after the almost four-hour standoff. Police have not publicly named Lee, but several local and federal law enforcement sources identified him as the gunman.

Lee held a grudge against Discovery, viewing the network as a purveyor of ideas he considered environmentally destructive and staging protests outside its headquarters, according to authorities and court records. Yet he got little farther than the lobby of the vast complex while the company alerted its thousands of employees and urged them to stay in locked offices and then evacuate using a designated stairwell.

— "US Defense Secretary Gates On Surprise Visit To Afghanistan," AFP:

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Kabul on Thursday on a surprise visit following a trip to Iraq, where he attended ceremonies to mark the formal end of the American combat mission there.

During his visit to America's other war, Gates is expected to meet President Hamid Karzai, as well as the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, and other officials, his staff said.

— "Immigration flares up in state races," POLITICO:

In states far from the Mexico border – from liberal Massachusetts to moderate Iowa – Democrats and Republicans in gubernatorial races are running on strict anti-immigrant platforms, pledging to sign an array of tough enforcement measures into law come January.

Of the 37 gubernatorial races this year, candidates in more than 20 states have endorsed adopting a strict Arizona-style immigration law, passing legislation that makes it harder for illegal immigrants to live, work and access basic public benefits in their states, according to a POLITICO analysis.