The US State Department rebuffed speculation that the administration of President Barack Obama was considering imposing economic sanctions against Israel in order to prevent it from continuing West Bank settlement construction.

Spokesman Phillip Crowley told reporters on Thursday that remarks made by deputy spokesman Robert Wood earlier this week had been "misinterpreted."

Asked at a press briefing on Tuesday whether the US was considering putting financial pressure on Israel to get it to comply with US demands, Wood had said: "It's premature to talk about that."

"What we're trying to do," he had said, "is to create an environment which makes it conducive for talks to go forward."

Crowley however, said that "we are not contemplating such action."

Addressing the administration's special Middle East envoy, who was making his way to Syria, Crowley said that "clearly, this is why George Mitchell is in the region today talking to all of the parties that we believe what they need to do is to set conditions, to resume negotiations so that all of these issues can be resolved through peaceful negotiations."

AP contributed to this report.



More about:Israel, Barack Obama, United States Department of State, Syria