U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank as Washington makes a new effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks early in President Barack Obama's second term.
Kerry entered the talks with Mr. Abbas at the Palestinian leader's Ramallah headquarters on Sunday, after arriving in Israel from Turkey. The top U.S. diplomat was expected to meet Israeli leaders and other Palestinian officials on Monday and Tuesday.
The U.S. State Department has said Kerry will press for confidence building gestures by the two sides, whose leaders have not held peace talks since short-lived negotiations in September 2010. Kerry is not expected to propose any formal U.S. peace initiatives to the parties.
Earlier Sunday, Kerry met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul.
At a joint news conference with Davutoglu, Kerry said Washington wants its allies Turkey and Israel to restore full diplomatic ties and sees that relationship as important to regional stability and restarting the peace talks.
Kerry said the two nations should finalize an agreement on Israel's compensation to Turkey for a deadly Israeli military raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel carrying pro-Palestinian activists in 2010. He said both sides also should return ambassadors to their respective embassies.
Secretary Kerry said the United States and Turkey share the goal of a peaceful transition of power in Syria. He also said Ankara has been "generous" in its support of Syrian refugees within Turkey's borders.
The United Nations estimates that more than 250,000 Syrians are living in Turkish camps after fleeing Syria over the past two years.