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22:24 GMT +3 hours21 December 2014
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Clinton arrives in Morocco for Middle East talks

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived on Sunday in Morocco to discuss advancing the Middle East peace process with Arab and Group of Eight countries, the Voice of America reported.

MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived on Sunday in Morocco to discuss advancing the Middle East peace process with Arab and Group of Eight countries, the Voice of America reported.

During her visit to the Moroccan city of Marrakech, Clinton is expected to attend the sixth Forum for the Future, which will take place on November 2-3. The U.S. top diplomat will discuss with Arab and G8 diplomats the improving of human development, democracy, rule of law, and economic growth in the Middle East, the Voice of America said.

Clinton's visit to Marrakech is part of her diplomatic mission intended to restart the stalled Middle East peace negotiations. Earlier, Clinton held separate talks in the Middle East with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The issue of Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank is a major obstacle to reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, and a sticking point in relations with the United States, Israel's main strategic ally.

Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity, and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001 from the Palestinian territories.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly was quoted by the Voice of America as saying that Clinton and the White House Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, hoped to use the meeting in Morocco to get Israeli and Palestinian officials back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

"We do call on everyone to lower the rhetoric, to avoid situations that enflame the situation," he said.

Clinton earlier said the settlement issue should not block further peace talks between Israeli and Palestinians.

The Forum for the Future, founded in 2004, is a joint initiative between the countries of the Middle East and North Africa and the G8 major industrialized economies, which provides states' governments, civil society groups and the private sector with an opportunity to discuss political and economic reforms aimed at promoting freedom, democracy and economic growth in the Middle East region.