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May 27, 2013

Kerry in Jordan for Mideast Peace Talks

by Scott Stearns

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jordan Monday, before traveling to France for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on ending Syria's civil war.

Kerry says the question for those working toward Middle East peace is simple.

"Will we, despite the historic hurdles, have the courage to make the choices that we know we need to make in order to break the stalemate and provide a change of life for people in this region?" he asked.

Kerry said how they answer that will determine whether young people in the region realize their potential and grasp the possibility of peace.

Kerry will meet separately Monday with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, former Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan bin Talal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

President Abbas says Palestinians have suffered long enough.

"We can not accept insulting the dignity of a people that is struggling for freedom and for independence and for practicing its legitimate right to self-determination," said Abbas. "The Palestinian people are eager for peace after a continuous struggling that lasted for 65 years."

At that forum, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Kerry brings an impressive momentum to the peace process.

"We and our Palestinian neighbors must return to the negotiations as soon as possible and really bring peace," said Peres.  "President Abbas, you are our partner and we are yours."

In addition to Middle East peace talks, Kerry is working to end Syria's civil war as part of a U.S.-Russian initiative to form a transitional government for Damascus. Kerry meets Lavrov in Paris Monday for a working dinner along with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.