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Kerry postpones Mideast visit: Report

Kerry, due to meet with Palestinian and Israeli officials starting Tuesday, postpones visit for dispute over preconditions for beginning peace negotiations

AFP , Monday 10 Jun 2013
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Views: 816

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was to return to the region this week for talks with Israelis and Palestinians, has postponed his visit, Israeli media reported on Monday.

According to Israel HaYom, a newspaper considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kerry had been due to arrive on Tuesday, but put off the visit "to give (Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas) more time" to decide whether to drop his insistence on a settlement freeze before returning to negotiations.

Kerry was likely to reschedule his visit for the following week, it said.

Israeli and American officials both refused to comment on the report.

Although the US State Department had not formally announced the trip, a tentative schedule from the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres said the two men would be meeting on Tuesday.

And Palestinian officials had announced he would be meeting Abbas on Thursday.

The trip would have been Kerry's fifth visit since he took office in February.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said he and Kerry would try and make progress towards "opening for negotiations with the Palestinians" in another indicator he had been due to visit.

The Palestinians say they will resume negotiations only if Israel stops building on land it wants for a future state and if the Jewish state agrees to negotiate on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.

But Israel has demanded an immediate return to talks "without preconditions" while refusing to publicly freeze settlement building.

Last week, Kerry warned time was running out for a possible peace deal.

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