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Kerry: Israel, Palestinians Must Decide Whether to Resume Peace Talks

  • VOA News

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is up to Israel and the Palestinians to decide if they want to resume Middle East peace talks.

Kerry met Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in London for "informal" talks, according to U.S. officials. It was their first face-to-face meeting since Kerry's failed attempt to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal last month.

A State Department official said Kerry reiterated U.S. support for the Palestinian people, but also said that Kerry said the Palestinian government must recognize Israel, commit to non-violence, and abide by previous agreements.

Watch related video report by VOA's Meredith Buel:

The secretary of state made clear that while the door remains open to peace, it is up to the parties to determine whether they are willing to take the steps necessary to resume negotiations. He again urged both sides to refrain from unhelpful steps.

They also discussed recent Palestinian political developments, and Abbas provided the Secretary with an update on the ongoing reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Congress is debating whether to block millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority because of its plans to form a unity government with Hamas -- the Islamic militants who govern Gaza. The United States and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group.

Israel left the peace process because of the deal with Hamas. The Palestinians were angered over continued Israeli settlement activity in areas they want as part of a future state.

The talks ended last month, missing Kerry's deadline for a framework peace agreement.

Kerry is in London for the British-sponsored Friends of the Syrian People meeting. Ministers from 11 countries will talk about efforts to ease the humanitarian suffering in Syria, support for the moderate opposition, and ways to push for a political transition.

They also plan to talk about other global matters, including Ukraine.

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