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Kerry: Israel, Palestinians closest to peace 'in years'

Dec. 6, 2013 2:39 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2013 4:23 P.M.)
BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (AFP) -- Israel and the Palestinians are closer to a peace deal than they have been in years, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday wrapping up his latest visit.

"I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve," he told reporters traveling with his delegation at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.

His remarks were made after a day-and-a-half of talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials aimed at driving forward the direct negotiations which began in late July but have made little apparent progress as they approach the halfway point.

Remembering the life of Nelson Mandela, who died late on Thursday, Kerry said the example set by the South African peacemaker should be of particular inspiration for those engaged in the talks.

"The naysayers are wrong to call peace in this region an impossible goal," Kerry said, before quoting Mandela: "It always seems impossible until it's done."

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