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Israelis And Palestinians Agree To Re-Launch Negotiation Talks For First Time In 7 Years

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Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed Tuesday to immediately resume long-stalled talks toward creating an independent Palestinian state by the end of next year, using a U.S.-hosted Mideast peace conference to launch their first negotiations in seven years.

In a joint statement read by President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to start discussions on the core issues of the conflict next month and accepted the United States as arbiter of interim steps.