Kerry presses ME peace talks
US Secretary of State John Kerry held a second day of talks yesterday aimed at reviving moribund Middle East peace negotiations, sounding out Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after talks in Jerusalem that went on into the night.
Kerry, who is trying to break a protracted deadlock in the negotiations, huddled in a Jerusalem hotel until nearly 1:30am with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hear his views on the way forward.
After the four-hour meeting, Kerry's motorcade made a nearly two-hour drive through the occupied West Bank to return to the Jordanian capital, where he had lunch with Abbas.
Aides said that further shuttle diplomacy between the two sides was possible over the next two days.
Officials were tight-lipped about Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu, held over a dinner of red tuna and salmon ceviche at a hotel suite named after Israel's slain peacemaking prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Kerry "reiterated his strong and sustained commitment to working with all parties to achieve two states, living side by side with peace and security," a US official said on condition of anonymity, calling the talks "productive". Kerry has made Middle East peace a signature priority. Since the veteran senator and former presidential candidate became the top US diplomat in February, he has visited the region five times.
US officials have played down hopes of a breakthrough but Kerry has said he wants progress before the UN General Assembly in September, when Abbas could rally international opinion against Israel if he sees no movement.