Kerry to visit Mideast to see Netanyahu, Abbas later this month

ROME Wed May 8, 2013 2:59pm BST

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) talks to journalists on board his plane after his departure from Moscow May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Mladen Antonov/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) talks to journalists on board his plane after his departure from Moscow May 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mladen Antonov/Pool

ROME (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday he would return to the Middle East later this month for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he seeks to revive peace talks.

"I will be travelling back to Israel to meet with both Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as President Abbas around the 21st or 22nd of this month," Kerry told reporters as he sat down for talks with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who has special responsibility for peace talks within the Israeli cabinet.

Kerry is expected to meet separately with Netanyahu and Abbas.

"I think it is fair to say that we are working through threshold questions and we are doing it with a seriousness of purpose that I think Minister Livni would agree with me has not been present in a while," Kerry said of his recent talks with Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab officials.

"We all believe that we are working with a short time span. We understand the imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can, Kerry added.

The U.S. Secretary of State has made it a priority to try to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which collapsed in late 2010 in a dispute over Israeli building of Jewish settlements on West Bank land that the Palestinians want for a state.

It remains unclear, however, whether the two sides are ready to make a serious new effort at peace or whether U.S. President Barack Obama is willing to put U.S. muscle behind a new initiative.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; editing by Barry Moody)

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