The EU works with the United States, Russia and the United Nations in a "Quartet" to promote a Middle East peace treaty.
Ashton's letter said "Abbas is very close" to accepting direct talks. "In principle, President Abbas should be in a position to give a definitive answer by Sunday or early next week," it added.
"The government of Israel has been calling for the immediate start of direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians for more than a year now," Regev told Reuters.
"We have confidence that we're moving in the right direction and ultimately will be successful," Toner said. "Is it difficult, yes. Are there issues, sure. But we're going to keep moving forward and we are moving forward."
The Quartet says Israel should halt settlement building in the West Bank and reach a full peace agreement with the Palestinians within 24 months, creating a state on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war