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Kerry to meet Palestinians' Abbas in Paris on Wednesday

Source: Reuters - Mon, 17 Feb 2014 17:54 GMT
Author: Reuters
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ABU DHABI, Feb 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Wednesday, the State Department said, as he seeks to nudge Israel and the Palestinians toward a peace deal by the end of April.

U.S.-brokered talks between the two sides have made little visible progress since they resumed in July after a three-year hiatus with a goal of reaching an agreement within nine months.

"Secretary Kerry will meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Paris, France on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Abu Dhabi, where Kerry is meeting senior United Arab Emirates officials.

Kerry has been the main driver in the Obama administration seeking to end the more than six-decade conflict, whose major unresolved issues include borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

In one hint of some headway, Abbas on Friday said he wanted to defend the rights of Palestinians who fled or were driven away during 1948 hostilities when Israel was founded "but we do not seek either to flood Israel with millions (of refugees) or to change its social composition".

The comments were regarded as his clearest suggestion yet that he might accept Israel's demands that Palestinian refugees be permitted to "return" only to a future Palestinian state.

Despite the signs of possible progress on the refugee issue, the sides still seemed far apart on other disputes such as the Palestinian demand for a capital in East Jerusalem, which Israel has made a part of its capital and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

With both Netanyahu and Abbas facing pressure from respective political allies against making concessions on core issues, Kerry has said he hopes to publish a framework or possible blueprint for an eventual peace agreement. (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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