World

Palestinians ready to extend talks with Israel if 'framework' deal can be reached by April

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2011 file photo, a construction worker works on a new housing unit in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa. The European Union said Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, it has asked Israel not to announce any new West Bank settlement construction following an expected Palestinian prisoner release, warning that it would be held responsible for any resulting failure in Mideast peace talks. In further pressure on Israel, a European delegation told Israeli officials that there could be dire consequences if the current round of peace talks collapses, including economic sanctions against the settlements, an EU official said. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2011 file photo, a construction worker works on a new housing unit in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa. The European Union said Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, it has asked Israel not to announce any new West Bank settlement construction following an expected Palestinian prisoner release, warning that it would be held responsible for any resulting failure in Mideast peace talks. In further pressure on Israel, a European delegation told Israeli officials that there could be dire consequences if the current round of peace talks collapses, including economic sanctions against the settlements, an EU official said. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)  (The Associated Press)

The chief Palestinian peace negotiator says the Palestinians are ready to extend the current talks with Israel beyond an April deadline — if there is a framework agreement in place.

The comments by Saeb Erekat mark the first time the Palestinians have endorsed the U.S. idea of seeking a preliminary — not final — peace deal.

Under U.S.-pressure, Israel and the Palestinians resumed negotiations last summer, agreeing to talk for nine months with the goal of a permanent peace agreement. With little progress so far, the Americans are now setting their sights on a preliminary deal.

Erekat said Wednesday that the framework would have to be a "detailed skeleton" addressing all core issues. If that is reached, he said talks could continue for several more months to complete the deal.