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Norway welcomes new Mideast talks

The Norwegian government welcomed news late last week that representatives for Israel and the Palestinians would finally enter into direct negotiations starting September 2 in Washington.

Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere (C) leaves after a news conference at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City August 16, 2010. The Palestinian Authority's budget is in the red and donors should make good on pledges to fill the gap, said Stoere, who chairs a donor group that backs the Palestinian government. To match Interview PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/NORWAY     REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who visited Israel, Gaza and the West Bank just last week (PicApp photo), was only cautiously optimistic that the talks will result in a new peace accord between the two sides.

“They will be extremely demanding negotiations,” Støre told news bureau NTB. “But I think the two parties have realized that the absence of negotiations and dialogue is no good alternative.”

Støre said it was “positive” that the US is engaging itself directly in the talks. Other Norwegian experts noted that most Palestinians support the talks, as long as Israeli stops building settlements in Palestinian territory, but remain pessimistic.

“There is little or no optimism among the Palestinians over what the negotiations will offer,” said researcher Åge A Tiltnes of the Norwegian think tank Fafo.

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