Kerry: Premature to write off Mideast peace talks

In this March 30, 2014, photo U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference in Paris. The United States is talking with Israel about the possibility of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard early from his life sentence as an incentive in the troubled Mideast peace negotiations, a person familiar with the situation said Monday March 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
In this March 30, 2014, photo U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference in Paris. The United States is talking with Israel about the possibility of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard early from his life sentence as an incentive in the troubled Mideast peace negotiations, a person familiar with the situation said Monday March 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is “completely premature” to write off the Israeli-Palestinian peace process even as negotiations were dealt a blow by a speech in which the Palestinian leader said he would press for U.N. recognition over Israel’s strong objections.

A senior U.S. official said Kerry had called off plans to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Wednesday. But Kerry told reporters at NATO headquarters on Tuesday that he and his team remained in contact with both sides. He maintained that the two parties are committed to reaching a peace deal and called on them to exercise restraint during a difficult period.

Kerry spoke shortly after Abbas said he would resume a bid for further Palestinian recognition by the United Nations.
Abbas’ decision, meanwhile, also threw into doubt claims that a deal was emerging that would have extended Israel-Palestinian talks beyond an April 29 deadline and included the release of imprisoned American Jewish spy Jonathan Pollard.

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