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Kerry and Abbas weigh ‘core issues’

Paris - US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held more than two hours of “constructive” talks on Israeli-Palestinian peace on Thursday, their second session in as many days, a senior US official said.

“As they did last night, they discussed all of the core issues and agreed to stay in close touch over the phone and through their teams on the ground in the coming days and weeks,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

American Secretary of State John Kerry. File picture: Charles Dharapak. Credit: Associated Press

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year break. At the time, Kerry said: “Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months.”

As that deadline has approached, US officials appear to have scaled back their ambitions, saying they are trying to forge a “framework for negotiations” as a first step though they still hope to hammer out a full agreement by April 29.

Such a framework could sketch the outlines of an accord to resolve the more than six-decade-old conflict, whose main issues include borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

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