US secretary of state to hold talks in Israel
US Secretary of State John Kerry was to hold talks in the Middle East Thursday, with the agenda expected to include an attempt to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, dpa reported.
Kerry was scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in the morning, before talks with the Palestinian leadership in the nearby central West Bank city of Ramallah by Friday at the latest.
The talks with Netanyahu would also focus on the civil war in Syria and the threat it poses to Israel, as well as on Iran's nuclear programme.
Netanyahu was also scheduled to meet British Foreign Secretary William Hague and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy later Thursday.
Kerry has asked Netanyahu to "restrain" Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, to boost his effort to revive the long-stalled negotiations.
Palestinian officials have publicly continued to insist on a full settlement freeze as a condition for talks.
The visit to Israel and the West Bank is Kerry's third in as many months. He began his intense mediation in March, when he accompanied Barack Obama on the US president's first visit to Israel since taking office.