CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Thursday he will visit Washington next week in an effort restore direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas began in Washington on September 2, but broke down a month later when a 10-month partial Israeli freeze on settlement building in the West Bank expired.
Since then, the United States and Egypt have tried to bring the two sides together. But Netanyahu has resisted calls by the United States and the Palestinians to halt settlement building in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.
"Negotiations are at a halt. There is indeed a problem," Aboul Gheit told a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"I will be visiting Washington this coming Tuesday. I will meet the American foreign minister and senior officials on Wednesday to see what the U.S. can do to resume negotiations between the two sides," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier on Thursday she plans to meet Netanyahu in the United States next week.
Palestinian officials have accused Netanyahu of destroying prospects for peace by allowing settlement building to continue on land that Palestinians want for a future state.
Hague said the British government believed "it would be a very serious set back if there were an irretrievable breakdown of the talks."
(Reporting by Marwa Awad and Ayman Samir; Editing by Jon Hemming)