WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday that Israel
's approval of building 112 new Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank
did not violate a limited Israeli settlement
freeze but was the kind of act both sides should be cautious about as they embark on indirect peace talks.
On the one hand, it does not violate the moratorium that the Israelis previously announced. On the other hand, this is the kind of thing that both sides have to be cautious as we move ahead with these parallel talks, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.
When you are in talks of this kind, you have to recognize the interests and perceptions of the other side, and both sides should be cautious about actions that might be either misperceived within the region or that might be exploited by those who want to create obstacles, he added.
Earlier, U.S. special envoy George Mitchell said he was pleased both sides had accepted holding indirect talks mediated by the United States, that they had begun to discuss the structure and scope of the talks and that he would return to the region next week to continue those discussions.
It was unclear, however, whether the indirect talks had already begun. Crowley told reporters he thought they had.
I believe they have started, Crowley said. I think they are underway. Pressed on whether he was sure the indirect talks had begun, Crowley said: I am certain.
(Edited by Philip Barbara)