Kerry and Abbas set for talks

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IOL pic apr3 usa john kerry Associated Press American Secretary of State John Kerry (pictured) will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman this week, most likely to try to restart the Middle East peace talks.

Amman - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to meet on Sunday in Amman with American Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing for a renewal of peace talks, a Palestinian official said.

“US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with president Abbas next Sunday in Amman,” the official told AFP on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israeli press reports said Kerry would arrive in Israel on Saturday night for talks with the leadership, but there was no confirmation from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose spokesperson refused to comment on the issue.

According to the Maariv daily, Kerry was planning to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah “once every two weeks” in what it said was partly a bid to “resuscitate” the Arab Peace Initiative.

“Israel should therefore consider the advantages it may gain from such an initiative,” the paper said.

The Arab Peace Initiative, tabled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League, proposed a normalisation of ties with Israel in return for its pullout from all lands occupied during the 1967 Six Day War.

Separately, Abbas was on Monday to travel to Qatar for a meeting of the Arab Peace Initiative committee for talks likely to focus on US efforts to revive the stalled peace process, the Palestinian official said.

Kerry, who took up his post on February 1, made his first visit to the region alongside US President Barack Obama last month, holding one-on-one talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in Jerusalem and Amman on March 24.

“I think the stage has been set for the possibilities that the parties can hopefully find a way to negotiations,” Kerry said in Baghdad a day later, describing the meetings as “a good beginning”.

Direct peace talks broke down just weeks after they were started in September 2010 in a bitter row over Israel's settlement building.

Since then, the Palestinians say they will not return to the table without a settlement freeze while Israel has agreed to resume talks only if there are no such pre-conditions. - AFP


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