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Middle East

Kerry wraps up trip on Israel-Palestine talks

US Secretary of State conducts final meetings with hope of getting fresh peacemaking under way before UN assembly.

Last Modified: 30 Jun 2013 07:27
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Israeli President Shimon Peres praised John Kerry for his determination to resume peace talks [Reuters]

US Secretary of State John Kerry has held final meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, wrapping up a fifth peace-brokering visit to the region with little sign of progress.

After six hours of overnight talks on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Kerry was scheduled to drive out to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank.

He was to due to leave for Asia in the afternoon.

Kerry has met both men repeatedly in separate locations since Wednesday in the hope of finding a formula to revive direct Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking stalled since 2010 by a dispute over Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The top US diplomat and his hosts have divulged little about the discussions, some of which took place in Jordan.

But Israeli and Palestinian officials on Saturday saw little chance of a diplomatic breakthrough.

Kerry's September deadline

Abbas has said that, for new talks to be held, Netanyahu must freeze the settlements - illegal under international law - and recognise the West Bank's boundary before its capture by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war as the basis for the border of a future Palestinian state.

Israel, seeking to keep settlement blocs under any peace accord, opposes those terms, deeming them preconditions.

A State Department official said Kerry's marathon discussions with Netanyahu and advisers in a hotel suite ended shortly before 4am (0100 GMT) on Sunday.

Afterwards, Kerry strolled through the deserted streets of Jerusalem accompanied by his security and one of his advisers on the Middle East, Frank Lowenstein.

"They discussed a wide range of issues related to the peace process, building on their earlier conversations this week," a State Department official said of the meeting with Netanyahu.

Kerry is keen to get fresh peacemaking under way before the United Nations General Assembly, which has already granted defacto recognition to a Palestinian state, convenes in September.

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that the Palestinians seek for a future state.

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Source:
Reuters
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