Mideast peace talks set to resume in Washington Monday

Middle East peace talks, stalled since September 2010, will formally resume in Washington on Monday, the US State Department said.

The State Department said Sunday that top diplomat John Kerry spoke to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders and "personally extended an invitation to send senior negotiating teams to Washington to formally resume direct final status negotiations."

"Initial meetings are planned for the evening of Monday July 29 and Tuesday July 30, 2013," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The Israelis will be represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians will be represented by Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh, she said.

Talks have stuttered and started for decades in an elusive bid to reach a final peace deal between the Arab world and Israel.

But they collapsed completely in September 2010 when Israel refused to keep up a freeze on settlement building in Palestinian territories.

"As Secretary Kerry announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, the Israelis and Palestinians had reached agreement on the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations," the statement said. "The meetings in Washington will mark the beginning of these talks."

"They will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months."