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Clinton promises Mid East engagement

From NBC's Libby Leist

After returning from his first Middle East trip last night, U.S. envoy George Mitchell briefed Secretary Clinton this morning about his discussions in the region. Mitchell and Clinton expect to brief President Obama in the next 24 hours.

In remarks to reporters after the meeting, Clinton said the U.S. will "work with all parties" to try to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she promised a concerted U.S. effort toward that goal.

Clinton announced that former Sen. Mitchell would return to the region before the end of the month.

"This is the first of what will be on-going, high-level engagement," Clinton said.

Today, Clinton heard from Mitchell about the regional efforts to bring about a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the international plans to deliver aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.

She also made an appeal to those in the region concerned about the fate of children on both the Israeli and Palestinian side. She stressed that the U.S. is engaged and committed to their cause.

"We'll work in good faith to solve the problems that are obviously afflicting that region," Clinton said.

Secretary Clinton was asked by NBC's Andrea Mitchell whether there needs to be a diplomatic path with Hamas to solve the Gaza crisis, but Clinton did not break from past U.S. policy.

"Our conditions with respect to Hamas have not and will not change," she said. She reiterated they must renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by past peace agreements.

Clinton also condemned the Hamas rocket attacks into Israel in the past few days and expressed support for Israel's self-defense.

"It is very difficult to ask any nation to do anything other than defend itself," Clinton said.

For his part, Mitchell called the situation in the Middle East "complex and difficult," but said with "patient, determined, persevering diplomacy" the U.S. can help make a difference.

He thanked President Obama and Secretary Clinton for their efforts to help launch his first trip -- specifically, Obama's interview with Al Arabiya and Secretary Clinton's phone calls with regional leaders.