President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday pledged to work toward a new round of direct Mideast peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, with Netanyahu saying discussions could begin within the next several weeks.
The two men expressed confidence that preliminary discussions hosted by the United States will lead to direct negotiations over a new peace in the region, but they acknowledged that a final agreement will be difficult and require sacrifice.
"Those are goals that have obviously escaped out grasp for decades now," Obama said as the two leaders completed an hour-long discussion in the Oval Office. "It's going to be difficult. It's going to be hard."
Obama added: "I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he's willing to take risks for peace." The president did not offer a timetable but said he was encouraged that so-called proximity talks being led by former Sen. George Mitchell will lead to the direct discussions.