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MIDEAST TALKS MAY RESUME IN WASHINGTON

The fifth round of the historic yet faltering Middle East peace talks most likely will be held in Washington April 27, the State Department says.

Spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said Monday that Secretary of State James Baker sent the proposal to Israeli, Jordanian, Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese negotiators over the weekend but has not yet received a response."The United States and Russia, as co-sponsors, have proposed to the parties that they resume the bilateral negotiations," Tutwiler said. "We have proposed that the next round take place in Washington, D.C., beginning April 27."

In its most recent diplomatic message, she said, the administration proposed that the sixth round be held "closer to the region," a request Israel has made repeatedly during the last two sessions in Washington. The administration has not yet specified a date for the sixth round, she said.

During eight days of talks at the State Department, Israelis and Palestinians swapped vastly different plans for a transitional phase leading to Palestinian self-rule.