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Abbas, PLO Officials to Discuss Resumption of Peace Talks

  • VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (File)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (File)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to meet Thursday with other Palestinian leaders to discuss the possible resumption of peace talks with Israel.

The talks with leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization come a day after Abbas met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is expressing optimism about a possible return to negotiations.

Kerry told reporters in Jordan on Wednesday that his meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials have been able to narrow differences between the two sides.

"Despite everything else that is happening in the region, despite all of the pressures of neighboring states, of refugees, conflict, despite the pressures of a volatile neighborhood, the fact is that both sides continue to work, up to this point, in good faith, in a good effort in order to try to find a way to succeed," he said.

Kerry spoke after briefing Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and representatives of Arab states that support a comprehensive peace plan. He urged Israel and the Palestinians not to take steps that would undermine the peace process.

His remarks in Amman came during his sixth trip to the Middle East since becoming secretary of state earlier this year.

Kerry has made reviving the Israeli-Palestinian talks - which collapsed in 2010 - one of his top priorities. During Wednesday's news conference, he said many of the Arab League ministers told him "the core issue of instability in this region and in many other parts of the world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."

Kerry said part of the plan is to show both sides the benefits of peace, and in particular the impact some proposals could have on the Palestinian economy.

"Our hope is that over the span of about three years you could actually reduce the unemployment rate from 21 percent to 8 percent, that you could double the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of all of the Palestinian territory," he added.

Despite his focus on restarting the peace talks, Kerry said his discussions also covered the conflict in Syria and the tensions in Egypt.

Kerry emphasized the need for a political solution in Syria that "promises the people of Syria a future without violence."

"The combination of the Iranian Quds force on the ground in Syria, and Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, on the ground in Syria and Russian support coming in has been the difference that's tilted some of these initiatives toward President Assad but not for the long term. And I think that's why we continue to say the political solution is the ultimate solution," he said.

In a previous version of this story, VOA reported that John Kerrry is weighing a possible visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan before his trip ends.

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