John Kerry upbeat after 3 days of Mideast diplomacy


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday

wrapped up three days of high-level Mideast diplomacy on a positive

note, saying he held "very constructive talks" with Israeli and

Palestinian leaders and promising to press on in an effort to break a

four-year deadlock over resuming direct negotiations. Talking to reporters after holding private talks with Israeli Prime

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kerry said the parties all committed to

a process that could "create the conditions for peace" so that they

can return to the negotiating table.

Kerry stressed that he was being mindful of the "good intentions and

failed efforts" that have dogged Middle East diplomacy in the past

and said he'd focus on "laying the groundwork so we can bring people

to the table with a clear understanding of what we're beginning on,

what we're trying to do, and where we're trying to end up."

Kerry, who has committed the United States to a multi-month

diplomatic effort, stressed that he was being intentionally coy on

the specifics of his new peace push.

"It's not going to be done and shouldn't be done in piecemeal public

releases," he said. "It's best done quietly."

The secretary of state also said he would be engaging in a parallel

effort to break down red tape and other barriers to economic progress

in the West Bank to improve the lives of Palestinians and provide a

climate for two-state solution. He said such an effort would also

improve Israel's security.

He said changes would come soon, and said more details would be

announced in the coming week after meetings in Washington with U.S.

aid agencies and financial institutions.

Netanyahu told reporters earlier Tuesday that he wanted peace. He

welcomed proposals for economic assistance to the Palestinians, but

said issues of recognition and security remain "foremost in our


"I'm determined not only to resume the peace process with the

Palestinians but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once

and for all," he told reporters before meeting Kerry. Addressing the

top American diplomat, he said, "This is a real effort and we look

forward to advance in this effort with you."

Kerry stressed that he was not trying to dictate the terms of any

peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

He noted the importance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a document

that has gotten renewed attention this week as Kerry and Arab

officials have discussed modifying its terms to boost

Israeli-Palestinian peace hopes. But he said the document belongs to

Arab countries themselves.

"It suggests ... a way forward for the Arab world to make peace with

Israel," he said. "As such, it remains a very important statement."


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions