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Abbas to meet Kerry in Jordan on Sunday

April 3, 2013 11:29 A.M. (Updated: April 5, 2013 12:24 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) - President Mahmoud Abbas is to meet on Sunday in Amman with US 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 media reported that 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 spokesman 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 newspaper said.

The Arab Peace Initiative, tabled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League, proposed a normalization 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 Feb. 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 over Israel's refusal to freeze illegal settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

Since then, the PLO says it 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.
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