Kerry extends Mideast trip in effort to salvage peace talks
U.S. Secretary of State to make unscheduled return from Jordan to meet with Netanyahu; says Israel, Palestinians committed to peace talks despite tensions.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has decided to stay an extra day in the Mideast on his latest trip to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Kerry said in a joint interview with Israeli and Palestinian TV networks that will air later Thursday that he plans to return to Israel on Friday for another meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, Kerry landed on Thursday in Amman, Jordan, which was supposed to be the final stop in his two-day Mideast trip. He had not originally been scheduled to return to Israel.
At a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Kerry said both Israeli and Palestinian leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to peace negotiations despite what he called clear tensions.
"Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and (Palestinian) President Abbas reaffirmed their commitment to these negotiations despite the fact that at moments there are obviously tensions," Kerry said.
Kerry brokered the re-start of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which began three months ago. But little progress has been made in the U.S.-brokered talks which are supposed to produce an agreement by the end of April 2014.
Kerry arrived in Israel Tuesday, shortly after a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiating teams, which took place amidst tension over settlement expansion and leaks from the negotiation rooms. The meeting, the sixteenth between the two sides, reportedly ended in a row, with raised voices and the exchange of verbal insults.
With reporting by Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid.