John Kerry Holds 'Useful' Talks With Israel and Palestinians as Obama Jets Home

Secretary of State Reports Progress on Mideast Peace

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By Reuters

Published March 23, 2013.
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Secretary of State John Kerry had “useful” separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

The official gave no details on the meetings, which followed President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories this week in which he called for fresh diplomatic efforts, but offered no new peace proposals of his own.

Kerry, who accompanied Obama on his trip and then stayed on in the region, met for two hours with Abbas in Jordan’s capital of Amman, a Palestinian source told Reuters. He then went to Jerusalem for talks with Netanyahu that stretched past midnight.

“Secretary Kerry had useful follow up meetings with both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. These meetings were the natural next step to the discussions the president and Secretary Kerry had this week (with Israeli and Palestinian officials),” said the senior U.S. State Department official.

“In both meetings, Secretary Kerry reiterated that peace is not only possible, but necessary for the future of the Israeli and Palestinian people,” added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A Palestinian source said Kerry’s meeting with Abbas had focused on “trying to find common ground between both sides to see if there is ground to resume peace talks”, and cautioned against expecting any quick results.

“It could take some time” to achieve a formal resumption of negotiations, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

While Obama made Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority in his first term, peace talks quickly ran aground in late 2010 in a dispute over Jewish settlement building in land Israel captured in a 1967 war. Palestinians seek this land for a state.


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