OSLO (AFP) — US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell said at the start of a donors' conference here Monday that Palestinians must be given the means to establish a viable state quickly.
"The first issue is of course the purpose of this meeting: to provide support to the Palestinian Authority," Mitchell said
"It's important that there be a building of institutions and governmental capacity so that at an early time there can be an independent viable Palestinian state."
Mitchell's attendance at the donors' conference will be followed by a Middle East tour, including talks with Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian officials.
The tour comes on the heels of US President Barack Obama's high-profile address in Cairo last week in which he sought to lay the groundwork for better relations between the West and the Muslim world.
Mitchell's tour may provide the first test of whether Obama's approach can have an impact on the crisis in the Middle East.
"The president has made it very clear publicly and privately over his entire administration that the United States believes that the two-state solution is the only viable political solution," said Mitchell.
"And that means two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. That's the top of our agenda and what we're going to proceed on as vigorously as possible."
Mitchell has been heralded as having brokered the Northern Ireland peace accords.
The Palestinian Authority received pledges totalling some 12 billion dollars from international conferences in Paris in 2007 and Sharm el-Sheikh in March this year.
But Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has said donors had been slow to hand over promised cash due to the lack of a "political horizon" in the Middle East.
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