Kerry to hold new talks with Abbas in Paris

The two men met first late Wednesday, backed by their teams, over a dinner hosted by Abbas at his upscale Parisian hotel

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Paris on Thursday for their second round of talks in two days.

The two men met first late Wednesday, backed by their teams, over a dinner hosted by Abbas at his upscale Parisian hotel.

The top US diplomat has spent months trying to get the Israelis and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for resolving their conflict, but the negotiations have shown little sign of progress, with each side blaming the other.

Infographic: Kerry on tour

Infographic: Kerry on tour
Infographic: Kerry on tour

“Secretary Kerry and president Abbas will meet again this afternoon to continue their discussion on a framework for negotiations,” a senior State Department official said, adding that after the dinner the two sides had met for a further two hours.

“They had an in-depth discussion about the core issues and agreed that it would be beneficial to continue that discussion today.”

Little has trickled out about the details of Kerry’s peace quest or what could be included in the framework, which is aimed at setting out a vision of the final endgame.

But the top US diplomat has said it will include all of the final status issues which have bedevilled decades of thwarted peace attempts, from the borders of two separate states, to Palestinian refugees and the fate of Jerusalem claimed by both sides as their capital.

“We are at an important point in the negotiations where we are engaged with narrowing the gaps between the parties on a framework for negotiations,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said before the Abbas dinner.

Israeli army radio reported Wednesday that Washington was to demand that Israel implement a partial settlement freeze after Kerry presents his framework.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper said Kerry had told an Israeli television station that settlers may not have to leave their homes under any peace deal.

Asked in an interview by Channel 2 to be broadcast later Thursday about the personal price individual settlers would have to pay, Kerry said he was not certain they would have to leave their homes.

Despite the tough talks and a barrage of personal attacks he was determined to stay the course, he said.

“People who know me know that when I sink my teeth into something, if I get the bit between my teeth, I try to get it done,” Maariv quoted him as telling the television station.

Kerry, who has pushed the two sides back to the negotiating table after a three-year gap, has no immediate plans to travel back to Israel after making 11 trips during his first year in office.

But he will likely meet early next month in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of an annual conference organized by a powerful American-Israeli lobbying group.

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