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Kerry: Agreement on basis to resume Mideast peace talks

July 19, 2013 9:39 P.M. (Updated: July 21, 2013 3:51 P.M.)
AMMAN (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that an agreement has been reached between the Israelis and Palestinians for the basis to resume Middle East peace talks.

"I'm pleased to announce that we've reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Kerry told reporters in Amman, Jordan.

"This is a significant and welcome step forward. The agreement is still in the process of being finalised so we are absolutely not going to talk about any of the elements now."

The top US diplomat also said that PLO negotiator Saeb Erakat and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni would meet him in Washington "to begin initial talks within the next week or so".

The announcement came at the end of four days of intense diplomacy by the secretary of state as he consulted Israeli and Palestinian leaders from his base in the Jordanian capital.

Talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have been frozen for three years, after Israel refused to agree to a new suspension of settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

In his brief comments to the press, Kerry praised the courage of President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"No one believes the long-standing differences between the parties will be resolved overnight or just wiped away. We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead," he said.

"Today, however, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of the courageous leadership by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here and both of them were instrumental."

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