US officials: Mideast talks starting soon

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it is near to securing an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks and U.S. officials say an announcement could be imminent.

The State Department said Thursday that an agreement was “very, very close” but that details were still being worked out. Administration officials familiar with the matter said an announcement could come as early as Friday or Saturday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the delicacy of the ongoing diplomacy.

Under a scenario now being finalized, the officials said Israel, the Palestinians, the “Quartet” of Mideast peacemakers and the United States would release separate but near simultaneous statements saying the stalled talks will resume early next month in either the U.S. or Egypt.