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Kerry says progress made in Mideast peace talks

Jun. 30, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

RAMALLAH, West Bank — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that “real progress” has been made on Mideast talks but more work is needed.

“We have have had very positive discussion, very important discussions, for the last few days. We agree we have made real progress, but we have a few things we need to work on,” Kerry told reporters.

Kerry, who has been shuttling between meetings with leaders of both sides, spoke after a two-hour meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

There is deep skepticism that Kerry can get the two sides to agree on a two-state solution. It’s something that’s eluded presidents and diplomats for years. But Kerry’s three meetings with Abbas and a trio of sit-downs with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Thursday has heightened expectations the two sides can be persuaded to at least restart talks, which broke down in 2008.

Most of Kerry’s meetings have lasted at least two hours and several of them were much longer. His initial dinner meeting Thursday night with Netanyahu was clocked at four, and the one Saturday night in a hotel suite with the Israeli prime minister and his advisers lasted more than six hours.

After the meeting broke up past 3 a.m. Sunday, Kerry took a pre-dawn stroll in Jerusalem with senior advisers. Kerry, the sleeves on his white shirt rolled up his arms, walked with a security escort to a park near the hotel, gesturing and talking with his top advisers on the Mideast peace process.

As dawn broke, there still were no signs that any agreement had been reached.