U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Wednesday, in an effort to convince the Palestinian Authority president to respond positively to the framework agreement Kerry is drafting. The document is meant to serve as the basis for continued Israeli-Palestinian talks.
The meeting with Abbas wasn’t originally on Kerry’s schedule. The secretary of state just wound up a visit to Southeast Asia, and on Monday, he arrived in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, for a round of talks there. But the State Department and senior Palestinian officials announced the unscheduled meeting Monday evening.
Kerry’s meeting with Abbas will follow several weeks in which the two maintained telephone contact only. The secretary of state hasn’t visited Jerusalem and Ramallah for some time now, in order to avoid raising expectations and political pressure and allow the framework agreement to be finalized in as calm an atmosphere as possible.
But U.S. envoy Martin Indyk has held talks about the document with both Palestinians and Israelis in recent weeks, while Kerry himself met with both parties’ negotiating teams in Washington, as well as at the Munich Security Conference earlier this month.
Kerry’s meeting with Abbas will take place about two weeks before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned trip to Washington, which will include a White House meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. The Americans, who are interested in finalizing the framework agreement by the end of March, are thus putting last-minute pressure on both leaders to agree to continue negotiating on the basis of the American document.
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