Israeli and Palestinian leaders have accepted indirect talks, according to George Mitchell, the Obama administration's special envoy for Middle East Peace.
Mitchell said that the two sides, with him acting as intermediary, have begun to discuss the "structure and scope" of the talks, according a statement released Monday by the State Department.
"I will return to the region next week to continue our discussions," Mitchell said. "As we've said many times, we hope that these will lead to direct negotiations as soon as possible."
Mitchell encouraged both sides to refrain from any statements or actions that may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of the talks.
The announcement comes as Vice President Joe Biden arrives in the Middle East. He will travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.