WASHINGTON - U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell did not win any breakthroughs in shuttle diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians this week but the process will continue, the State Department said on Friday.
Of course we hoped to have an agreement. Of course we were hoping for some kind of breakthrough, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters after Mitchell left the region following a week of discussions.
This is going to demand a lot of patience, and the U.S. is ready to stay patient, stay engaged, and make all the efforts necessary to reach this goal.
Kelly said there was no current plan for President Barack Obama to host a summit next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the U.N. General Assembly in New York -- a move which some observers had hoped could mark the resumption of formal peace discussions suspended since December.
There has been no agreement to have a trilateral meeting. I know there has been a lot of speculation about such a meeting. I will say this is an ongoing process, the discussions are going to continue, he said.
Palestinian officials have said a three-way meeting was still possible in New York, but all acknowledge that it will not be enough to relaunch the peace talks without big shifts in negotiating positions.
Mitchell, a former senator credited with helping bring peace to Northern Ireland, maintained his usual silence on his work before departing from the region.
Netanyahu has resisted Obama's call for a complete halt to construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem.
Abbas has ruled out resuming talks unless Israel carries out a total freeze on settlement building in line with its commitment under a 2003 U.S.-backed road map peace plan.
The two sides are also at odds over the scope and pace of further negotiations, officials say, with Netanyahu reluctant to commit to a timetable, possibly as tight as two years, for a deal that would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
(Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Alison Williams)