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July 19, 2013

Kerry Meets Abbas in West Bank

by VOA News

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Ramallah, meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his ongoing effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The meeting Friday comes as the top U.S. diplomat extended his trip to the region and follows talks earlier in the day in Jordan with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Kerry has praised both Israel and the Palestinians for narrowing their differences, but the two sides reportedly remain at odds over restarting the talks, which collapsed in 2010.

Palestinians are demanding Israeli guarantees about the general border of a future Palestinian state before agreeing to hold the talks. Israel wants to begin the talks immediately, refusing to make concessions first.

The White House says President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to ask him to work with Kerry to "resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible."

This is Kerry's sixth peacemaking trip to the Middle East since he became secretary of state earlier this year.