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Kerry Pushes Peace Agenda in Israel, West Bank

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington is not giving up on faltering Mideast peace talks as he met Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Speaking Wednesday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry said he and U.S. President Barack Obama "are determined, and neither of us will stop in our efforts to pursue the possibility [of peace]."

Kerry also reaffirmed Washington's rejection of Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian land as "illegitimate."

Earlier, at a meeting with the top U.S. diplomat in nearby Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the negotiations on a two-state solution to the conflict had failed to make any real progress.





Kerry, who meets Mr. Netanyahu again tonight and Mr. Abbas Thursday in Amman, said there are always "difficulties" and "tensions" within negotiations, but that he is confident the parties can work through them.

He also addressed Mr. Netanyahu's concern that world powers may negotiate an agreement with Iran that would decrease sanctions in return for anything less than the full dismantling of its nuclear enrichment capability.



"Our goal is an Iran that has only a peaceful nuclear program. And indeed we must make certain it is incumbent on us, a responsibility on the world, to know with certainty that it is a peaceful program and there is no capacity to produce a weapon of mass destruction."



The United States and its Western allies suspect Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes.

Iranian diplomats will hold another round of talks Thursday in Geneva with negotiators from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China, plus Germany.

Following talks in Israel and the West Bank, Kerry is due to visit Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.

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