US special envoy George Mitchell is continuing his drive to kick-start peace talks in the Middle East with a visit to Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.Yesterday, in Tel Aviv, Mitchell met Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak who promised his government’s co-operation. “I can tell you that we here are ready to make whatever reasonable effort to make peace in the region a reality and to try to push it forward. Of course, we will keep our own interests in mind, but we understand that our other partners have needs as well,” he said. Relations between the US and Israel have been strained recently. Washington says the ongoing Israeli construction in the Palestinian territories is undermining efforts to bring peace to the region. In Damascus, Mitchell told President Bashar al-Assad that restarting the stalled peace talks between Syria and Israel was a “near-term goal”. Dialogue broke down nine years ago over the scale of a planned Israeli pull-back on the Golan Heights.