Kerry cites progress in peace talks but more work to be done

Kerry will travel to Saudi Arabia and Jordan for the next stages of the peace talks

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday he was making progress to prod Israel and Palestine towards a peace agreement.

"I'm confident that the talks we've had in the past two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others," he said after meeting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.


“We are not there yet, but we are making progress, he added.

Kerry was in the West Bank on Saturday for a second day of talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

He tells reporters that "we are working with great intensity and serious purpose with a commitment to resolve this conflict.”

"We are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be overcome," he added.

Kerry is set to meet almost immediately Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, their third meeting in three days.

Kerry is trying to nudge the leaders closer to a peace pact that would establish a Palestinian state and set a framework to guide talks for a final settlement in the decades-long dispute.

On Sunday, the U.S. secretary of state is set to travel to Saudi Arabia and Jordan for the next stages of the peace talks.

Lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the Palestinians had the most to lose from the peace deal.

"No-one stands to lose more from failure than the Palestinians," Erakat told reporters at Abbas's West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.

"Failure to us is not an option. We really are doing everything possible to ensure the success of Secretary Kerry's efforts."

Kerry announced he would also be meeting with with Arab League leaders to brief them on his latest round of talks in Israel and the West Bank.

"During this week our teams will continue to work to try to lay the foundation and the groundwork for the progress needed in order for me to come back and take the next steps," he said.

"This is hard work there are narrative issues, difficult, complicated years of mistrust that have been built up," Kerry added.

"All of which has to be worked through and undone and a pathway has to be laid down in which the parties can have confidence that they know what is happening and that the road ahead is real not illusory."

(With AFP and AP)

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