Kerry extends Mideast peace mission

Updated: 2013-06-30 17:25


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JERUSALEM - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday evening started his third meeting in 48 hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his latest move in seeking to revive long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

A diplomatic source in Jerusalem told Xinhua prior to the meeting that the talks between Kerry and Netanyahu "might lead to a breakthrough and the resumption of the peace talks."

Kerry extends Mideast peace mission

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan June 29, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

Kerry has been on a back and forth shuttle of intense talks with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem and Palestinian leaders in Amman, Jordan in the past 48 hours and postponed a planned trip to the United Arab Emirates, which was supposed to start on Saturday night.

Kerry is also ready to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a third time on Sunday if it would help push forward the Mideast peace process, according to an anonymous US State Department official.

This is Kerry's fifth visit in the region since he took office as US secretary of state, in a continuing effort to get both parties back to the negotiation table.

So far, no official statements have been issued by either side regarding the first two meetings between Kerry and Netanyahu.

Jordanian media on Saturday morning said Kerry has agreed with Netanyahu and Abbas to conduct a four-way summit, with members representing Israel, the Palestinian National Authority, Jordan and the United States, which may be held next week in Amman.

According to a report on the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yum, the Palestinians agreed to attend the summit after Israel has agreed to freeze its construction in the Jewish settlements, release Palestinian prisoners locked up prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords and determine the borders of the future Palestinian state.

Sources told the Walla! news website Saturday that Israel is willing to release prisoners on a gradual basis and not to build more settlements, but it is reluctant to publicly declare it.

However, officials of both Israel and Palestine remain cautious of the prospects of reviving the peace talks between the two sides, which broke down in 2010 after Israel restarted construction in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank on territories set to be included in a possible future Palestinian state.

An Israeli official said early on Saturday that Kerry's efforts would bring about a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian delegates. But when Kerry held his third meeting with Netanyahu, Israeli Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel's Channel Two in a television interview that no new direct talks with the Palestinians were imminent.

Erdan said there were no possibilities for the Israeli side to return to the negotiation table as Abbas demanded the same preconditions for talks as before.

For its part, Palestine requires Netanyahu to stop constructing settlements in the West Bank and recognize the boundary before its capture by Israel in 1967 as the basis for the future Palestine's border.

A Palestinian official told Xinhua in Ramallah that there are "still no results that may actually bring to the renewal of the negotiations between both parties."

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