US Middle East Envoy Meets Israeli PM in Jerusalem

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell has met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today to try to resolve a dispute over Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The two met in Mr. Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem to discuss steps in bringing about Middle East peace. Washington says Israel must freeze settlement construction to promote peace, but Israel says it must continue building to allow for the settlements' "natural growth," Voice of America reports.

Netanyahu and Mitchell both reported "progress" after their meeting, but gave no details on how close they were to resolving the disagreement.

"I think we're making progress toward achieving an understanding that would enable us to continue, and in fact complete, a peace process that would be established between us and our Palestinian neighbors and ultimately the entire region," Netanyahu said, The Associated Press reports.

The settlement issue has given rise to the worst public tensions between Israel and the U.S. in nearly two decades.

Mitchell stressed that Israel and the U.S. remain "friends and allies," Bartlesville Live reports.

Meanwhile, other senior US officials - National Security Adviser James Jones and American envoy to the Gulf states, Dennis Ross - were expected soon in the region to join the peace efforts, RTT News reports.