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Kerry to travel to West Asia for peace talks

Kerry to travel to West Asia for peace talks

Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories on New Year's Day trip to push forward the peace process and find a lasting solution to decades-old conflict in the region.

"On January 1, Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, and to Ramallah to meet with (Palestinian Authority) President (Mahmoud) Abbas," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

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

Kerry has been pushing the two sides to reach a peace deal ahead of an April deadline.

Direct talks were launched between the two sides in July this year aimed at forging an accord within nine months.

This would be Kerry's tenth visit to the region since March. His last visit, a week-long trip, began on December 11.

There was no information given on how long Kerry is expected to stay there.

Kerry recently insisted concrete progress has been made in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, but gave no details, saying it could be counterproductive.

"I'm personally encouraged that very tough issues are beginning to take shape," he said in an interview with ABC television on December 15.

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