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Kerry refers to Palestine as 'country'

July 26, 2013 1:09 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2013 10:51 P.M.)
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to have flubbed his lines on Thursday when he referred to Palestine as a country.

Speaking at the United Nations ahead of talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Kerry praised the "courageous decision" by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to resume direct negotiations.

"It's my hope that that will be able to happen as procedures are put in place by both countries in order to empower that," Kerry told reporters.

The US does not recognize Palestine as a country, although the UN General Assembly admitted Palestine as a non-member state in November.

The US had opposed an earlier Palestinian attempt to join the UN as a state in the Security Council.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf assured reporters later that US policy had not changed.

"Our position has not changed not on the status of the Palestinian territory. The secretary was in no way indicating a change of policy," she said.

Later asked about his comment, Kerry replied: "Did I say that?"

Last week, Kerry appeared to have achieved a breakthrough deal to get the two sides to return to the negotiating table after a three-year break.

No date has yet been set, although an Israeli minister said that the talks would begin on Tuesday in Washington.

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