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Kerry Hopeful on Palestinian Economic Plan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says an economic plan to revive the ailing Palestinian economy could expand output by up to 50 percent in the next three years.

The top U.S. diplomat, speaking Sunday at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, said the plan could also cut unemployment by almost two-thirds and average wages could jump 40 percent. But he said improvements depend on parallel progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kerry said the plan is expected to produce around $4 billion in investment and that experts have been working to make the project "real, tangible and shovel-ready." He has been working with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and global business leaders to devise economic plans to revitalize the Palestinian economy.

Earlier Sunday at the same venue, Israeli President Shimon Peres said it is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to overcome their differences and establish peace.

Mr. Peres said loss of the opportunity for reconciliation would lead to great disappointment. He said achieving the goal should not require too much time.

After meeting separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials last week, Kerry urged both sides to drop all preconditions and restart peace negotiations. The Middle East peace talks have been largely stalled over the past four years.

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