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Kerry to meet Abbas to push for talks

US secretary of state to meet Palestinian president in West Bank to discuss terms for restarting talks with Israel.

Last Modified: 19 Jul 2013 12:00
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US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held meetings on Tuesday [AFP]

US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian leaders in a last-minute diplomatic effort aimed at resuming negotiations with Israel, US and Palestinian officials say.

Kerry, on his sixth peacemaking visit to the region since March, met Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman on Friday to discuss Palestinian terms for restarting the talks.

"Secretary Kerry will travel to Ramallah this afternoon to meet with President Abbas," a senior State Department official said in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

"Kerry will go at 3:00pm local time [12:00 GMT] today to meet Abbas, travelling by Jordanian helicopter," an official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

The Palestinian leadership on Thursday did not accept Kerry's latest proposal to restart the talks that have been stalled for the last three years, but signalled they were leaving the door open for him to continue his peace push.

Negotiations, which have ebbed and flowed over two decades, collapsed in late 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinians want that land as part of an independent state and have demanded Israel halt all settlement construction and recognise the pre-1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.

Palestinians claim those territories for their future state, with modifications reached through agreed "land swaps" that would see major Jewish settlement blocks built in the West Bank becoming part of Israel in exchange for territories elsewhere.

Israel has balked at the Palestinians' demands and says talks should start with no preconditions.

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