Kerry: Israeli and Palestinian leaders serious about talks

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Kuwait on Wednesday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are committed to restarting peace talks.

“Both of them [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] have indicated a seriousness of purpose,” said Kerry, as quoted by Reuters.

The secretary of state’s comments come amid doubts on whether either side can sit for talks after three years of silence.

Kerry said Netanyahu and Abbas “have both been tested” but also called them “very skilled veterans” of politics in the region.

He was speaking at a news conference in Kuwait with Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah, the country’s foreign minister.

Kerry said he did not wish to set deadlines but stressed there should be progress “as soon as we can” and before September, when the annual U.N. General Assembly will be held, giving Abbas a platform to rally international support.

“Deadlines can become self-imposed hurdles, and in fact impediments, to actually making progress,” said Kerry, according to AFP.

This is the first time Kerry has visited Kuwait as secretary of state.

He had previously visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia where he mostly worked to coordinate aid to Syrian rebels in the civil war.

In an obstruction to peace talks, on Wednesday an Israeli planning committee gave its final approval for 69 settler homes in Har Homa, East Jerusalem.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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