Egypt said Wednesday it has received US assurances that may help in restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad did not disclose details of the US assurances, which come on the eve of a crucial Arab League meeting to determine the future of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
is under intense international pressure to restart direct peace talks with Israel frozen in 2008.
Arab foreign ministers will meet Thursday to consider the matter of direct talks, potentially adding more pressure on the Palestinian president.
Abbas has insisted he will only upgrade the current US-mediated indirect talks with Israel if it agrees to a halt on settlement construction and accept a Palestinian state in West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations.
This week The Associated Press obtained a Palestinian document that revealed that special US envoy George Mitchell warned Abbas that if he does not agree to direct talks, President Barack Obama will not be able to help the Palestinians achieve a state of their own.
The indirect talks and a partial Israeli freeze of settlement building will end in September.
Awwad said that Obama has committed to exerting efforts toward direct peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
He said President Hosni Mubarak has received a letter from Obama, followed by calls from Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all signaling a US commitment to establish a Palestinian state.
"These are all indications which we hope are pursued and yield Arab and international consensus to launch direct peace talks with a time table and clear terms of reference," Awwad said.
Assurances from the US might convince Abbas to restart the talks.
Netanyahu has called for resumption of direct negotiations without conditions. He has accepted the concept of a Palestinian state but has refused to outline his stance on the main issues, including borders, before the talks resume.
In a speech
Tuesday in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said a Palestinian state must be demilitarized and recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also demanded undefined security arrangements.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the Arab foreign ministers are looking to hear from Abbas about the reassurances he also received from the Americans.
Egyptian officials say enthusiastic engagement from Obama could help efforts to resume direct talks. But the Palestinian document noted that Mitchell demanded Palestinian agreement for direct talks before Obama gets involved.