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Israeli and Palestinian officials are meeting for the first time in years, in hopes of eventually reaching an agreement to end the decades-long conflict at the heart of the Middle East.
In advance of the talks, the Israelis agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who now chairs the consulting firm The Albright Stonebridge Group, says it’s important to be patient.
“This is the beginning of the beginning in many ways,” Albright told Here & Now. “This is a long process. And having been involved myself, I know how long they take. And there is no guarantee that in a few weeks there will be some resolution.”
Albright says Secretary of State John Kerry has been “remarkable” in brokering the talks.
“[Kerry] has put an incredible amount of his personal time into this, and he is somebody who I think is very focused on personal relationships,” she said. “An awful lot of foreign policy and diplomacy is related to personal relationships.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks won’t solve every problem in the Middle East, but they are “very, very important,” Albright said.
“The Middle East is in turmoil in many different ways,” she said. “We do know that there are an awful lot of other various thoughts and various problems within the Middle East generally that have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, though, as you know, sometimes those that do not want to settle problems somewhere else blame it all on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
Albright says the U.S. still has influence in the region.
“I always believe the U.S. has a voice. But I think that we have to keep in mind that in many ways this is not our story.”