February 17, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki on Wednesday hinted at the possibility of holding indirect negotiation with Israel, but said it won't be an alternative to the face-to-face talks.

Al-Maliki said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is still waiting clarifications from the United States which has proposed the indirect negotiations in a bid to revive the Israeli- Palestinian peace process, stalled since December 2008.

"If the U.S. response was positive, then the indirect talks would not be a final alternative to the direct talks," al-Maliki told reporters in Ramallah.

U.S. Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, will arrive in the region "in the coming days to deliver the responses to President Mahmoud Abbas," al-Maliki said.

The Palestinians have doubt about the time frame and goals of the indirect talks, with Mitchell acting as a go-between. The indirect talks are expected to focus on the borders of a future Palestinian statehood.

Al-Maliki said the PNA insists that Israel must stop settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem before any direct talks.

The Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table without a complete freeze of Jewish settlement activities in the occupied territories, while Israel rejects any Palestinian precondition on resuming the talks.


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