Kerry to visit Mideast for peace talks

Updated: 2013-12-29 10:02


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WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East next week to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the US State Department said Saturday.

The top American envoy will travel on Wednesday, the New Year's Day, to Jerusalem to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

"In these meetings, he will discuss the ongoing final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, among other issues," Psaki said in a statement.

The forthcoming trip will mark Kerry's tenth trip to the region since taking the top diplomatic job.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine were restarted under the brokerage of Washington in late July with a view to finalizing an agreement by the end of April next year, but blames traded by the two sides have brought the talks to a halt.

Israeli media reported on Wednesday that Netanyahu was expected to announce construction plan of thousands of new housing units in the settlement, close to the upcoming planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Thursday that Israel would destroy the peace talks if it announces any new plans for settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and could be met with retaliation.