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    Kerry Sees Progress in Mideast Peace Talks Despite Tensions

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is critical for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to be reached and that "significant progress" was made in recent talks.

    At a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Kerry said Israeli and Palestinian leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to peace negotiations, despite what he called clear tensions.

    He said regional leaders recognize the economic benefits a comprehensive peace deal would bring, including increased revenue from tourism and trade. Kerry praised Jordan's role as a key player "already engaged in major security relationships" with both the Israelis and Palestinians.

    Earlier, he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman for their second discussion in as many days in a bid to push forward faltering peace talks amid complaints from both sides that the other is harming the three-month-old negotiations.



    The senior U.S. diplomat met twice Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and will hold talks with him a third time Friday in Jerusalem.

    Palestinian officials have complained about Israel's continued settlement construction in areas the Palestinians want as part of a future state. Mr. Netanyahu expressed concern about the talks on Wednesday and accused the Palestinians of creating "artificial crises."

    Kerry, who reiterated that the United States considers the settlements "illegitimate," said he is determined to pursue the chance for peace.

    He also said there are always "difficulties" and "tensions" within negotiations, but that he is confident the parties can work through them.

    Following his stop in Jordan, Kerry is due to visit the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.

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