Kerry ‘determined’ to announce resumed talks, say Palestinians

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 5:37pm

US Secretary of State John Kerry is “determined” to announce resumed Middle East peace talks before he leaves the region at the end of the week, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

“There has been progress in meetings with Kerry after he presented his initiative to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a meeting in Amman,” the high-ranking official said, requesting anonymity.

“The US secretary of state is determined to announce, before he leaves on Friday, a restart of negotiations,” he added.

Kerry was on his sixth visit to the region since becoming the US top diplomat, and met Abbas after dinner on Tuesday to discuss unblocking the peace process, which saw talks grind to a halt in September 2010.

Kerry and Abbas met for five hours in an upscale hotel in Jordan as they shared a traditional iftar dinner to break the day-long fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Kerry was to outline his progress on the Middle East peace process later on Wednesday when he meets a delegation from the Arab League.

His visit comes amid Israeli anger over new European Union guidelines barring the 28-member bloc from funding projects in Jewish settlements.

A senior Israeli official said on Tuesday the EU move was likely to prove a stumbling block to Kerry’s diplomatic efforts.

There are no immediate plans for Kerry to visit Israel and to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unlike previous trips to the region when he has shuttled back and forth between Amman and Jerusalem.

“Some in Europe seem to be determined to undermine this effort and to undermine the chance of returning to direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks,” the Israeli official told AFP.

“Why would any Palestinian leader enter negotiations when they receive what they want without negotiation?”