No breakthrough at Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu

Photo: No breakthrough at Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu  / Israel-Arab Relations

US Secretary of State John Kerry failed to achieve a breakthrough on Friday at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intended to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, dpa reported.

Kerry was seeking to push Israeli and Palestinian leaders to reach a "framework agreement" by the end of January, aimed at breaking the deadlock in the talks that began in July, after an absence of any direct negotiations for almost three years.

Shortly before his departure from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Kerry reaffirmed the United States' commitment to a two-state solution. "We are working on an approach that both guarantees Israel's security and fully respects Palestinian sovereignty," he said.

Israel Radio quoted Israeli officials as saying that the nine-month deadline originally set to meet a peace accord would have to be extended.

The news comes after the secretary of state met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday on his second visit to the region this month.

Kerry also met chief Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat in Washington on Monday.

Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has been a major point of contention in the talks. The Palestinian negotiating team resigned last month over the issue.

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