US President Barack Obama on Monday hailed the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians as "a promising step forward", but said "hard work and hard choices" lie ahead. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry named Martin Indyk, former American ambassador to Israel, as his special envoy to guide the peace talks, Xinhua reported.
Obama said he was "pleased" to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accept Kerry's invitation to formally resume direct final status negotiations and send senior negotiating teams to Washington DC for the first round of meetings.
"This is a promising step forward, though hard work and hard choices remain ahead," the president was quoted as saying in a statement. Earlier, Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni expressed "great hope" for the long-stalled peace talks, before heading to the US to meet her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat.
The two negotiators are scheduled to meet at Kerry's house. "I'm leaving on this mission with heavy responsibility but also with great hope," Livni said prior to her flight to Washington.
"There's a chance now for both sides to pave the way for reaching a resolution of this conflict which had taken a valuable price out of both people," she added. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians came to a halt in 2010 over Israel's construction of settlements in the West Bank.